Smart Woman: Operation Mend Helping Wounded Veterans

Published 05/26 2014 06:18PM

Updated 05/26 2014 06:29PM

Retired Army Sergeant Jason March has come a long way since a sniper in Iraq shot him behind his right ear 8 years ago.

 "The entire right side of my face was pretty much reconstructed"  said March who has received over 80 surgeries.

Many of those procedures happened here at UCLA's Operation Mend Program. It  gives wounded veterans free access to plastic and reconstructive surgeons.

A medical tattoo artist helped put the finishing touches on a scar on the back of March's head, to make it look like hair is growing back.

"I didn't like people staring at that. And I always wore hats. I got tired of wearing hats"

Operation Mend has treated more than 100 wounded military men and women since it began in 2007.

For March the biggest milestone was getting his smile back.

"The left side smiled and the right side drooped, and it just really , I didn't like it when I was in a lot of pictures"

Plastic surgeon Reza Jarrahy removed a nerve from March's groin and transferred it to his cheek.

"Really the greatest fulfillment comes or came in Jason's case at the end of a 2-year process of some pretty major surgeries when he was able to smile" said Dr. Reza

"I can get in front of any camera and do anything now and feel better now about doing it" said March who plans to go back to school to study graphic design., something he never thought he'd have the confidence to do again.

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