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War wounded spend a day outside the hospital


It's a vacation-style outing, but with a serious purpose.

Once a month, therapists at Naval Medical Center San Diego gather up a dozen or so patients for a trip to the San Diego Zoo, SeaWorld, Horton Plaza or another fun place crowded with civilians.

The goal is to give the patients — most of them wounded and traumatized by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — a break from the rigors of medical appointments and other rehabilitation sessions.

But along with the fun, therapists hope it will help ease the transition back to civilian life. A recent trip took a dozen patients on the Coronado ferry, San Diego trolley, and then to a bowling alley/restaurant.

"It feels good to be out," said Marine Cpl. Michael Fox, who lost both legs in Afghanistan. "You don't feel like you're the only one with problems."


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Photo: Marine Lance Cpl. Chris Van Etten, 21, who lost both legs in Afghanistan, enjoys a game of bowling during a recent outing with the "community reentry" program at Naval Medical Center San Diego.

Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

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