Wounded Iraq Vet Gets A Chance To Try Flying

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Veterans Retreat, a Miami Beach-based charity that helps enrich the lives of veterans wounded in the Iraq or Afghanistan wars, recently brought retired Army Capt. Mark Brogan and his wife, Sunny, to Florida for a free weekend of flying. "Mark has wanted to fly since he was a kid," Sunny told a local reporter. Capt. Brogan was injured in a 2006 suicide bombing that left him with brain and spinal cord injuries and nearly severed his right arm. Doctors at first told Sunny to be prepared to "pull the plug," he said, but today he is walking and talking, against the odds. "My wife and I have been through quite a lot," he said, in an Air Force Times story about his recovery. "This has mostly been a journey of blind exploration for us."

Veterans Retreat offers vets a chance to spend a few days in Florida and try flying, scuba diving, or sailing. Each aviation student receives introductory instruction, their own logbook and advice on how to continue their flight training at a hometown airport, seek a career in aviation or simply fly with an instructor whenever they want an adventure. "A lot of these guys surf the Internet all day long with nothing to do," Tim Sureath, founder of the group, told a local TV reporter. "We want to help them find some purpose." This week, the group wrapped up a charity auction of a South Beach condo. Not enough tickets were sold to win the condo, but the lucky ticket holder took home $30,000 and so did Veterans Retreat.