Memorial honoring injured vets under way

WASHINGTON (AP) – Army Lt. Dawn Halfaker was on patrol 10 years ago in Baqubah, Iraq, when a rocket-propelled grenade tore through her military vehicle and exploded inside.

When she woke up from a coma, the West Point graduate found out her right arm was gone and her career as a military officer was over at age 24. It’s the kind of sacrifice millions of U.S. soldiers have made dating back to the American Revolution. Veterans groups say there as many as 4 million living today with the scars of war.

Now Halfaker will be among those pictured in a new memorial rising near the National Mall within view of the U.S. Capitol. The American Veterans Disabled For Life Memorial will be the first memorial in Washington dedicated to veterans who come home with life-changing injuries. It’s a project 16 years in the making and is set to be dedicated Oct. 5.

Glass walls will carry inscriptions and photographs telling veterans’ stories from different eras. Bronze silhouette sculptures will represent their service. A ceremonial flame will burn on the water’s surface in a star-shaped fountain representing the five branches of military service, surrounded by a grove of trees. The idea was inspired by the camaraderie of soldiers’ campfires and the flame as a symbol of renewal, designer Michael Vergason said.