Colts owner, Jim Irsay, arranged Monday for a bus of Colts employees to travel to Methodist Medical Plaza North for a special luncheon to benefit Indiana 76th Brigade, Operation Care Package, and .
Sgt. Klay South, founder of Operation Care Package and Veterans of Valor, was the keynote speaker. South was wounded in 2004 while serving in Fallujah, Iraq.
Very candidly, South recounted the ordeal, stepping the audience through the sequence of events that would change his life forever. On November 11, 2004, South was shot point blank, from head to toe, by an AK47 followed by a grenade blast.
"I kicked open the door, and my fate was there to meet me," South said. "Recovery was the most difficult part of my life."
50 surgeries later, with 22 new teeth, only a small portion of his tongue remaining, and an entirely titanium jaw, South is now fully invested in helping fellow soldiers through their own recovery.
"I know what it's like to lie there on life support," said South. "I can't give them back their leg. They can't give me back my face."
With the average suicide rate of soldiers at 218 a month, South is doing everything in his power to prevent more tragedies through Veterans of Valor. The purpose of the program is to give some semblance of normalcy to severely wounded soldiers who return state-side with virtually nothing.
"No one wants to wear a hospital gown all the time," South added.
Veterans of Valor provides soldiers with a backpacks stocked with t-shirts, shorts, zip-up hooded sweatshirts, break away warm-ups, iPods, and PsPs. With these items, South hopes to make the treatments and therapies less stressful.
"[The PsPs and iPods] can bring them back to a better place. Music was able to take my mind off the pain while going through my surgeries."
South was sure to make it clear to the audience that despite his wounds he continues to pride himself in being an infantry marine.
"I have no regrets. I love serving my country. I love being a marine."
Operation Care Package has two goals, to provide quality care packages to military personnel both abroad and stateside and to help fund Veterans of Valor.
Veterans of Valor, a non-profit organization, is designed to help severely combat wounded service members by providing specific items, services, and programs to meet their needs by promoting public awareness and utilizing community and public support.