Iraqi Captain to Receive Free Care; U.S. Army Officers, Frist clear'Rambo' for a Top Medical Center

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), February 4, 2006 | Go to article overview

Iraqi Captain to Receive Free Care; U.S. Army Officers, Frist clear'Rambo' for a Top Medical Center


Byline: Maya Alleruzzo, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

A renowned Atlanta medical center has agreed to treat without charge a decorated Iraqi army captain paralyzed in an insurgent attack during home leave Christmas Day.

The case of Capt. Furat, chronicled in The Washington Times, has been taken up by U.S. Army officers who consider him a hero and by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Tennessee Republican, who is working to clear bureaucratic hurdles so that the Iraqi soldier can come to the United States for treatment.

Officials from Atlanta's Shepherd Center said they would treat the 28-year-old captain pro bono in response to a personal appeal Tuesday by U.S. Army officers from two battalions attached to Capt. Furat's unit in Iraq's Diyala province.

Capt. Furat - his real name is being withheld to protect his family in Iraq - wept upon hearing the news.

"Really, I don't know how to thank everybody for this," he said in a telephone interview from his hospital bed at the giant U.S. Air Force field hospital in Balad, Iraq.

Mr. Frist, a surgeon himself, is trying to clear the remaining hurdles to allow Capt. Furat to go to Georgia for treatment.

"When I heard about [Capt. Furat], I was naturally concerned about the health and future of this valiant young Iraqi officer who fought so bravely alongside our forces," Mr. Frist said of his decision to contact the Pentagon on the captain's behalf.

"If a hospital in Atlanta is willing to provide him the treatment he so desperately needs, then I wanted to help facilitate his transfer and transport from Iraq to the U.S. where he can receive that care," the senator added.

Capt. Furat needs clearance from Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld to fly on military aircraft and must obtain a visa from the State Department to enter the United States.

The Iraqi army captain has been paralyzed from the waist down since a bullet severed his spinal cord when he was ambushed by insurgents during a visit home Christmas Day.

A former special forces officer in Saddam Hussein's military who battled U.S. troops in Baghdad during the 2003 war, Capt. Furat joined the "Tiger Battalion" of Iraq's fledgling new army in Diyala province northeast of Baghdad. He won the admiration and respect of his American counterparts for his courage under fire.

But his service also made him a particular target of Iraq's deadly insurgency, and his friends and family fear he could be in danger if released from the U. …

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