Operation Proper Exit

On Sunday night we watched 60 Minutes. We don’t normally watch this CBS program, but with the death of Andy Rooney we decided to watch the tribute they paid to him after so many years of giving “the last word.” What we didn’t know was how another story would affect us.

Meet Cpl. Steven Cornford.

He was only 18 years when his unit was deployed to Iraq. That was 2007, and what he experienced nearly took his life in more ways than one.

His unit was caught in a firefight when Cpl. Cornford was hit in the shoulder. His Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Neil, made an attempt to rescue him when he was shot and killed. Cpl. Cornford was flown home to recover. His injury would heal completely, but the pain caused inside by what he experienced would take more than medicine to heal. His Lieutenant was like a father to him, and he was overcome with guilt that he couldn’t help him.

Cornford: I–I see his face– every time I close my eyes to go to sleep at night. I blame myself a lot, because I got hit first, and he was comin’ to get me. I– I just– I wanna be able to lay it to rest, like he is. ‘Cause I know he’s in a better place. I just– I know he would want me to.

These thoughts would haunt him night and day for the next four years.

Finally he heard of Operation Proper Exit, where wounded soldiers are taken back to Iraq to close the door on the events that caused them to exit prematurely. His wife said she was afraid what would happen to her husband. “What if it makes you worse going back there?” She was rightfully concerned.

Cornford: I know I’ll be a lot less angry. I’ll treat my wife with a little more respect. I won’t be so– I guess snappy with people. I’ll– I’ll be a little more understanding ’cause I always hear people complain about stuff, and it just makes me mad because a lotta people don’t understand. They don’t see the stuff that– they just go about their daily lives, while there’s still people dyin’ every day. For them. And it– it upsets me a lot. And it– just I– I’m startin’ to feel a little better about it.

Here is the video of his return home and how the entire experience helped him.

Each man came for a different reason– to remember peace of mind– to see again–to walk out of Iraq. Before their return, the enemy had had the last word. But now, after a week, they’d rewritten that history. This was their proper exit. They were guided by the eyes of others or walked on artificial legs – those things would not change. But as they left on their own terms now – the enemy was retreating from the battlefield of their minds.

So, the question we must ask ourselves, “Are there areas in my own life that I have kept from my spouse? Am I afraid to let them know what thoughts are chasing me? What war is being fought on the battlefield of my mind?” Open up. Seek help. Do whatever it takes to give a proper exit to this way of thinking. Your marriage and your family depend on it.

This Friday is Veteran’s Day. Will you join us in praying for the many soldiers who are battling similar issues as the ones of Cpl. Cornford. Let’s ask the God of Peace to draw them to Himself – Who alone is the source of all peace and comfort. And may the marriages of these wounded soldiers grow strong and healthy as a result.

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Four Days And Counting…

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