WASHINGTON – Thirty American soldiers severely wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan were guests of the Israel Defense Forces attaché and Israeli Embassy in Washington on Sunday night.
The injured troops, who are hospitalized at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, arrived at the Israeli Embassy building in Washington accompanied by their family members. Each of the soldiers – whether arriving in a wheelchair, on crutches or on his own two feet – was greeted by an Israeli officer who escorted him throughout the event, which also included dinner.
"The connection was real. The meeting was moving and heartwarming," Brigadier General Ronen Dan, the Israel Air Forces' attaché in Washington, told Ynet. "I admit I was skeptic, but I left with a good feeling. We come from a different battlefield, but we all fight terror, we all have injured and we share the same values.
"These are precious people with a lot of unpleasant injuries. They seemed amazed by our gesture. We had a feeling they were thanking us from the bottom of their hearts," added Dan, who delivered a speech during the event.
The American soldiers shared their experiences during the event and listened to the battle stories of their Israeli counterparts. Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren told the American troops about his three children's IDF service and how one of them was injured while arresting wanted Palestinians in the territories.
Walter Reed Army Medical Center for the rehabilitation of Americans wounded in war has been active for 100 years. It has treated some 150,000 US troops and has rehabilitated the most serious injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The hospital organizes visits in Washington restaurants and foreign embassies for its most severely wounded patients. The decision to invite the injured to the Israeli Embassy was made last year, in honor of the American soldiers' contribution to the war on terror.