Eleven veterans treated through the UCLA Health Operation Mend program took a moment to reflect before beginning their 1.2-mile march in the 100th New York City Veterans Day parade on November 11, 2019. For many of the veterans, the day was a powerful milestone in their journeys toward healing their wounds of war. Nearly 100 family members, supporters, staff, friends and other veterans joined the Operation Mend vets as they paraded by thousands of people lining Fifth Avenue, cheering them for their service, sacrifices and resilience. Gen. (Ret.) James F. Amos, the 35th Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, and his wife Bonnie Amos, who are members of Operation Mend’s founding Board of Advisors, joined the marchers.
Veterans also participated in events that included a guided tour of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, a donor-sponsored evening at Bryant Park Grill that featured stories shared by veterans and their caregivers, an auction to raise money for Operation Mend and a performance by Scott Terry and Eric Hall of the band Red Wanting Blue. In addition, Operation Mend’s first patient, Marine Cpl. Aaron Mankin, participated in a special Veterans Day ceremony at the Nasdaq stock exchange, which included U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper. The entire Operation Mend community ended Veterans Day with a celebration at P.J. Clarke’s Sidecar, hosted by its owners, retired Marine and two-time Purple Heart recipient Phil Scotti and his wife Thea Scotti.
Founded in 2007, UCLA Health Operation Mend helps America’s post-9/11 service members and veterans recover from their visible and invisible wounds of war. In addition to surgical care, the Operation Mend Intensive Treatment Program to treat posttraumatic stress disorder and mild traumatic brain injury is the only program in the nation that treats caregivers alongside their veterans as full participants. To further advance its mission, Operation Mend recently formed an outside Board of Advisors, the inaugural meeting of which took place in conjunction with the New York Veterans Day activities. Cpl. Mankin started the meeting and shared his perspective about the tremendous needs of service members and veterans still suffering. Summing up the weekend, he said, “It’s all about the people. We come back each year, a little different, a little more healed. These types of events do my heart good.”
For more information, contact Nicholas Middlesworth at: 310-206-2089