Anthony Ameen knows what it means to have the support of the community as a wounded veteran.
The unit he was serving in in Afghanistan in 2008, 2nd Battalion/7th Marines — 1st Marine Division as a U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman, was facing daily fire fights with the Taliban. Twenty-one men from his unit lost their lives during their deployment and on July 21 Ameen stepped on an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) while running to reach an injured Marine and lost a portion of his left leg.
“I didn’t black out but it hurt like hell and unfortunately I wasn’t able to make it to that Marine because I got hurt myself,” Ameen said. “He lost his life.”
As Ameen was sent back home to recover he said he dealt with a lot of survivor’s guilt and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). On top of all of that he realized the health care system for wounded veterans wasn’t what it needed to be. He was denied Social Security for two years while he fought to prove to the government that he was an amputee and his parents struggled to be by his side through nearly 30 surgeries.
That’s when the Ahwatukee Foothills community rallied around Ameen and his family. They were able to raise funds so that his parents could be by his side during his surgeries through a program they called Wings for Anthony. Once Ameen started to “climb out of his shell” as he puts it, he decided to put his experience and knowledge to good use and go to battle for other veterans in a situation similar to his own. He changed the name of Wings for Anthony to Wings for Warriors and made it into a 501 c-3 non-profit in 2010.
Now, Wings for Warriors is a national organization that provides guidance and counseling for wounded veterans, financial assistance for family members traveling to visit wounded loved ones and public awareness events and programs to highlight the unique challenges wounded veterans face when they return home.
On Feb. 19 Ameen will share his story as the keynote speaker for the Service Appreciation Dinner, hosted by the Ahwatukee Rotary, Lions and Kiwanis clubs. This is the second year the groups have come together to host the event.
The dinner will honor those who protect and serve the community including Phoenix police and fire, representatives from Homeland Security, Luke Air Force Base, the National Guard, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the American Legion. A portion of the proceeds from the dinner will be donated to the Wings for Warriors organization.
The dinner will take place at the Foothills Golf Club, 2201 E. Clubhouse Drive, at 6 p.m. Tickets are $30 per person. To reserve your seats and get payment instructions, go to http://www.signupgenius.com/go/904044BA4AC238-service.
A cash bar reception will be from 6 to 6:30 p.m., dinner and speaker will follow.
For more information on Wings for Warriors, visit wingsforwarriors.org or call (480) 779-9464. Wings for Warriors can also be found on Facebook at facebook.com/WingsforWarriors and on Twitter @Wings4Warriors.
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