Syracuse (WSYR-TV) -- It may take a long time to get adequate medical treatment here in the states when a soldier is severely injured fighting for our country, making it harder for them to get their lives back to normal. But a new program may help.
Gerald Esposito was injured in Iraq. He says he’s “trying to get back to normal.”
A bracelet helps Esposito remember the date of the explosion in Iraq that left him severely injured and his friends dead. Esposito suffered skull fractures, seizures and was blinded in his right eye because of the explosion.
“It’s constant. Sometimes it feels like there’s sandpaper in the eye and other times…it feels like someone’s jabbing a knife into it,” Esposito said of the pain in his eye.
Now, almost six years later and after more than five failed surgeries through the VA, Esposito wears the bracelet as he's back in the operating room.
Esposito allowed NewsChannel 9 cameras in to see doctors take away his pain for good -- by removing parts of his eye.
Doctors Tom Bersani and Robert Hill performed the surgery at absolutely no cost to Esposito -- A procedure Esposito would have had to wait years for through the Veterans Administration.
“I'll say a lot of good things about our VA system and I think they do a really great job with a lot of things, but they have a lot of people to take care of and the waiting list is very long and so I think just to relieve his pain more quickly we thought we could just expedite this and do it privately,” explained Dr. Bersani.
Esposito will also be fitted with a new, handmade prosthetic eye.
“Removing an eye is an unfortunate situation, but often times people who are in chronic pain or have a disfigured eye, the removal is a way for them to restart their lives, have a normal looking eye again and start over,” Dr. Hill said.
For Esposito, that will mean finishing school in Renaissance history. He hopes to find a research job with a museum - things he wouldn't be able to achieve without the volunteers who help to better the lives of those who volunteered to protect ours.
In a month, he'll be fitted with his new prosthetic eye made in Rochester and hopes to live a pain free life.
The surgery is possible because of the organization “Iraq Star,” a non-profit that provides free reconstructive surgery for wounded and disfigured Iraq and Afghanistan Soldiers.
To learn more about the program, CLICK HERE