Anthony Ameen’s story is a battlefield tale that resounds with heroism.
But the Ahwatukee man and Afghanistan war veteran, who served as a U.S. Navy Hospital corpsman from 2002 to 2010, doesn’t care much for the word “hero” – unless it refers to other wounded warriors.
And on Veterans Day, the Desert Vista High School Class of 2000 alumnus, still known as “Doc” Ameen, will hold his second annual gala aimed not only at honoring those warriors but helping them as well.
“Past giveaways have included an all-expenses-paid trip for a veteran and his caregiver,” Ameen said. “This year, we are looking to provide customized prosthetics to some of our veterans. We believe that these wounded veterans have fought for us, and now it’s time we fought for them.”
His seven-year-old nonprofit, Wings for Warriors, will hold its gala 6-10 p.m. Nov. 11 at the Radisson Hotel Phoenix Airport, 427 N. 44th St., Phoenix. Tickets for the black-tie-optional event are $125 per person and $225 per couple with all proceeds helping wounded vets of the nation’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Tickets and information are at wingsforwarriors.org.
A Purple Heart recipient, Ameen remembers all too well how financial and healthcare benefits were often hard to obtain while he battled back through more than 30 surgeries required after losing limb and sustaining other injuries in Afghanistan.
His organization stemmed from a project called “Wings for Anthony,” which Ahwatukee neighbors and friends undertook to help his parents, Rusty and Jan, get to their youngest son’s side as he recovered from horrendous combat wounds.
On July 21, 2008, during a Taliban counterattack in Nowzad, Afghanistan, Ameen, operating with the 2nd Battalion/7th Marine First Division was radioed by his platoon staff sergeant to assist a wounded Marine.
“I started running to help him and stepped on an IED,” Ameen recalled.
“The amount of pain I felt that morning was so intense, I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I’m very fortunate to have lived through that.”
Only four months into his Afghanistan deployment, the then-27-year-old said he knew he’d lost his left foot. The extent of his injuries later would be found to include two shattered legs and a crushed left wrist with two dangling fingers.
During his ensuing 32 surgeries, the lower half of his left leg was amputated. Reconstructive surgeries were required for his left hand and fingers. His “noodle” of a right leg was eventually reconstructed, but for some time, its fate was borderline.
Add to that the post-traumatic stress disorder he suffered, and you understand why Ameen says his charity “strives to provide the public with a raw look into the daily obstacles that wounded warriors face" re-entering civilian life.”
His work has helped over 2,000 wounded warriors with healthcare, financial benefits and counseling. Over 300 military families have received travel assistance.
“There are over 56,000-plus combat wounded veterans that have returned home from Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said.
“I understand and know firsthand what these wounded warriors are facing on a daily basis with regard to their recovery process.”