During the first PMC rotation in Iraq, SSWO Tomasz Kloc was deployed as a sapper, and he would go on a routine patrol for four and a half months. Sometimes two or three times a day. Until “the day” came. In December 2003, on his convoy route, IED exploded.
„The shell fragments first shatter the window, than – me. I feel no pain, see my leg in pieces, my uniform, meat, pool of blood. I take my radio and say I’ve been hit”, he recalls. His wounds never allowed him to return to active service: damaged femoral nerve causes contractures, plus right-hand paresis. The treatment duration was several months, rehabilitation took another two years. In 2005, Tomasz retired from professional military service. He still feels his wounds occasionally, because the shell fragments remained in his body.
Upon return, the worst was the feeling of helplessness. He went there healthy, he came back hurt in his body and soul. He was 3,1 and hoped his successes were still ahead of him. Already as a civilian, he graduated from sociology and got his master’s degree. He got a job in administration. He thought it would be great to associate with other veterans, and such was the origin of the Association of Soldiers Wounded and Injured in the Missions Abroad in 2007. Today, Tomasz Kloc is a President of the Board in the Association. “Our priority is to take care of wounded soldiers, and their social stimulation”, he says. Since 2013, he has been employed as a civilian in the 12th Mechanized Brigade in Szczecin to deal with problems of the wounded and injured soldiers. He helps his colleagues wounded in missions as well as the families of those who were killed.
“I am proud I will be representing Poland in the Invictus Games”, he says. “I’ve been called up for the Polish Invictus Team, which for me means passing an impassable line. Once again, I have become a strong fighter, a man of determination. This has been the greatest form of psychotherapy a wounded soldier can get. Reaching out for the stars is sometimes more desirable than actually getting the falling one”.
Missions: 1999–2000 UN PMC Lebanon, 2003 PMC Iraq 1st rotation
Discipline: sitting volleyball, indoor rowing, light athletics (shot-put and discus throw)
autor zdjęć: Michał Niwicz