FORT HOOD - An organization aimed at helping wounded warriors revisit the battlefield is also helping some Gold Star family members cope with loss.
Just last year, a Gold Star father took that trip and was welcomed by Fort Hood's Major General John Thomson overseas.
Retired U.S. Navy Captain Thomas Feeks lost his son Patrick, a Navy SEAL, during a helicopter crash during a mission in Afghanistan back in 2012.
"It was life changing for Captain Feeks. He was able to put some things at rest and what was interesting, he built very strong relationships with all of the warriors," said Rick Kell, executive director and co-founder of Feherty's Troops First foundation.
Feeks and four other Gold Star family members so far have traveled with wounded warriors overseas to get a taste of their soldiers' deployed life.
Patrick's father said the experience certainly won't rewind time and bring his son back, but said it's therapeutic.
"I think what is healing is to realize that there is young men and women out there that are doing the jobs everyday that our sons and daughters were doing," Thomas Feeks said.
And Feeks had quite an emotional experience when he got there while shaking the hands of the deployed soldiers.
"Captain Baker said 'Oh this would be such a great thing if my uncle could do this.' And I said 'Did you uncle lose his son or daughter?' And she says 'Yes. He was a seal.' And I said 'You're kidding because I know most of the Seals, and she said Dave Warsen, and I said 'Oh you gotta be kidding me. He was killed with Patrick'," Thomas Feeks said.
General Thomson was involved in the first Operation Proper Exit just for wounded warriors back in 2009. When Thomson was approached about hosting family members down range, he had some qualms at first.
"I said it's a great idea, but I personally have a lot of concerns. There's a lot of risks. This is a combat zone. This isn't easy living, even though it's only for three or four days," Thomson said.
But it's gone well.
With five Gold Star family members already making the journey, they've learned a little more about their loved one who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Kell said this will be part of Thomson's legacy.
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