Good physical health. Our families and friends. Freedom and security. It is easy to take for granted that which is most important in our lives. But we must remind ourselves every day that the things we hold dear have been underwritten through the decades by those who have worn the uniform. The warfighters who have and who continue to serve their armed forces deserve our utmost respect.
Consider Boaz Tabib, a champion in table tennis, who will compete in this year’s Invictus Games. While in Israel recently, Tabib shared with me how he surfs the web and makes calls on his mobile phone even though he lost both hands and was badly burned in the Lebanon War in 1982. Like his Invictus Games compatriots, each one having conquered or continue to confront physical or psychological challenges, Tabib refuses to let the past limit his future.
Tabib’s unyielding determination exemplifies why it is our duty to step forward and support the recovery and rehabilitation of those who gave their all in the service of their country.
I am incredibly proud to work at Boeing, which employs more than 20,000 veterans and supports organisations around the globe that help veterans build the confidence and resilience they need to win their next missions.
It is why we consider it a great privilege to be the presenting partner of the Invictus Games this year in Dusseldorf, where hundreds of wounded, injured and sick veterans will inspire the world with their strength and spirit. In many ways, they will exemplify the most powerful yet fragile of human emotions – hope.
But hope alone is not enough. We can do more to help heal the visible and invisible wounds of our veterans and their families. We can do this through vigorous support of rehabilitation and recovery programs.
I have witnessed the therapeutic power of public display and support. After the 2017 Invictus Games, I hosted the Australian team as they visited the Australian War Memorial. While there, I met Garry Robinson, a former sniper team commander who was seriously injured in a Blackhawk crash in Afghanistan. He could have jumped out of his wheelchair and run 10 kilometers after seeing a photo emblazoned on the front of the memorial. The image showed a tall, strong, bearded commando, his M4 carbine resting in front of him. The commando was Garry; the image captured during his deployment years earlier in the harsh Afghan dessert. Other veterans saw their service honored in the images of the ship, aircraft, or tank they served on; all powerful reminders of the sacrifices and lives given – for us.
One measure of our readiness to face a world of increasing conflict is our ability to support today’s warfighter. Another is our success in supporting the warriors of yesterday who made incredible contributions to protect all that we hold dear. Please join me in supporting their recovery and cheering on the competitors and their families at The Invictus Games in September.
Dr. Brendan Nelson is president of Boeing Global and a former director and chairman of the council of the Australian War Memorial. He was Australia’s Minister of Defence from 2006-2008.
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