For the Reporter
Cities around the nation, including Auburn, will hold Veterans Day parades this weekend to honor U.S. military veterans.
However, the biggest parade of all will be in New York City on Sunday, when about 30,000 participants, cheered on by hundreds of thousands of spectators, will march along a 1.2-mile route up Fifth Avenue.
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. (retired) George Cloy of Auburn will be among those veterans walking in the iconic New York City Veterans Day Parade, in the heart of Manhattan.
He will join a contingent from UCLA Health Operation Mend, a Los Angeles-based program that provides specialty health care services to service members or veterans injured in the line of duty (combat or training) post 9-11.
Cloy himself has been a patient with Operation Mend.
Cloy, 61, joined the Army in 1982. While serving in Mosul, Iraq in 2007, he was hit with an enemy mortar that sent him airborne. He landed on his back and hit his head and suffered spine injuries. Over time, he also experienced other symptoms including migraines, forgetfulness and memory problems, which left him feeling frustrated and angry.
Cloy heard about Operation Mend’s intensive treatment program for traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress from Wounded Warrior Project, and called for help.
At UCLA, he was diagnosed with traumatic brain injury, something he had always suspected but never confirmed.
“At first I was a little hesitant because I did not know if Operation Mend could help, but I feel my outcome was great,” Cloy said. “It was very beneficial to me to get a correct diagnosis and a comprehensive treatment plan.”
Cloy is looking forward to celebrating Veterans Day with the Operation Mend group on Sunday.
“I’m looking forward to representing Operation Mend because it has helped me,” he said. “I want people to know if they’re having issues related to combat they would be doing themselves an injustice if they did not look into Operation Mend and give it a chance.”
This will be the eighth year that UCLA Operation Mend patients, family members, doctors, staff and supporters have participated in the parade.
“It’s truly an honor for us to walk in the New York City Veterans Day parade with our patients and their families who sacrificed so much for our country,” said Troy Simon, executive director, Operation Mend, UCLA Health Military and Veteran Health Programs.
The New York City Veterans Day Parade, produced by the United War Veterans Council, is the largest event of its kind in the nation. Its purpose is to honor the service of veterans and to salute currently serving military. This year’s parade commemorates the centennial of the end of World War I (1918 to 2018).