Wounded Soldiers Return to Iraq, Seeking Solace

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Soldiers have often returned to old battlefields, to honor fallen comrades and to exorcise persistent demons. British soldiers go back to the Falklands. Normandy cemeteries are on many V.F.W. and American Legion itineraries. Vietnam veterans can even get package tours now to the places where they were stationed.

Now, Americans wounded in the Iraq war are being ferried back to the scenes where they were maimed to help achieve psychological closure, the first time such visits have been tried while a war is still in progress.

The seven-day program, called Operation Proper Exit, has been kept quiet previously, partly because returning to a combat zone is considered a delicate experiment. For the eight wounded men who returned to Iraq this week, including five amputees and one blinded soldier, the hope is that returning to places many of them left while unconscious or in agony might reassure them that their losses have been worth it.

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