Warrior Spotlight: Wisconsin Army National Guard Maj. Scott Southworth
July 31, 2007
Those of you who read brat’s story Where Is The Outrage? about the Iraqi orphans who were discovered living in filthy, deplorable conditions by our Troops, should be pleased when you read this story. Someone else saw that story, too. That someone is a Soldier who had previously been deployed to Iraq, and he watched the news about these children with equal horror. He has decided that he’s going to do something about it. Meet Wisconsin Army National Guard Major Scott Southworth. I imagine, that everyone else who reads his story will walk away with the same sense of pride and gratitude that I have for Soldiers like Major Southworth. This story just emphasizes the compassionate and caring nature of the men and women who are serving our country in our Armed Forces.
Major Scott Southworth
Often when Troops are deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, they are faced with many challenging and dangerous situations, and yet, these adversities seem to almost always bring out the best in them. Maj. Scott Southworth of the Wisconsin National Guards is one of those warriors.
In September 2003, Maj. Southworth, the commanding officer of the Wisconsin National Guard’s 32nd Military Police Company was deployed to Iraq. His team was responsible for taining local police officer in Northeast Baghdad. During their time there, they faced many challeges, but physically and mentally. Not only were they in a hostile environment, with danger around every corner, but they were battling temperatures in the triple digits and set backs along the way, such as the time a car bomb exploded at one of the police stations that they operated, killing several of the Iraqi police officers they were working with.
The Soldiers of the 32nd Military Police Company all wanted to do something to help the Iraqi orphans, so in addition to their mission, they spent time assisting local orphanages. On one such visit, September 6, 2003, the visited a nearby orphanage. That visit changed Southworth’s life, when a young Iraqi orphan named Ala’a, who was unable to walk due to Cerebral palsy, pulled himself across the floor, straight towards Southworth and greeted him with a smile and a few words in English. That day marked the start of an unbreakable bond between the Soldier from Wisconsin and the Iraqi orphan.
Over the next few months, Southworth returned to the orphanage frequently to visit with Ala’a. Each visit brought them even closer together. Southworth made one last visit to the orphanage as he tour in Iraq drew to an end. He wanted to make a difference in the life of Ala’a and was determined to bring Ala’a to the United States to live with him. He couldn’t bear the thought of never seeing Ala’a again.
He ran into a huge roadblock though. Iraqi law, forbids foreigners from adopting Iraqi children. That roadblock however, didn’t end his quest to bring Ala’a to the United States. Just before he left Iraq, in July 2004, the Iraqi government approved for Southworth to bring Ala’a to the United States for medical care. Southworth returned to Wisconsin and began to navigate the bureaucracy. He finally gained Humanitarian Parole for Ala’a. Ala’a is now in the United States and is now on a path, that seemed unimaginable just a few years before. He is attending school and has made great strides. He’s now fluent in English and learning to read. With the help of doctors and specialists, whom all donated their time, his cerebral palsy is being tackled head on and his making significant progress. He is being taught to walk on a specialized treadmill. His hope is to one day to be able to walk without assistance. He’s growing closer and closer to that goal every day.
Major Southworth & son Ala’a
The things that Southworth has done, don’t end with Ala’a. When the story broke in June 2007 about the orphans in Baghdad who were discovered living in filthy and deplorable conditions, Southworth happened to be watching the news. He recogonzied some of the boys as the very same orphans that he and his team had visited back in 2003. Southworth and two of the Soldiers who’d served with him decided that they were going to do something about these children. Currently, they are working relentlessly to bring the 24 orphans discovered in that orphanage, to the United States.
More than 40 families around the country have offered to host the orphans once they arrive. Southworth and his Soldiers are working to line up doctors and pharmaceutical companies willing to provide, at no cost, the necessary medical care and supplies that these young orphans will need, due to their disibilities.
In his quest to provide these young Iraqi orphans with a chance at a better life, Southworth has dealt tirelessly and persistently with Iraqi and US goverment officials. Currently he is awaiting approval from the Iraqi government to transport the children to the United States. His plans are to ensure that each child is provided with the same care and attention that he’s ensured his son Ala’a has had.
Because of his efforts, in 2005 Southworth was awarded with the US Army’s General MacArthur Leadership award, recognizing his committment to “duty, honor and country.” An award that is very much deserves. His story should be one that’s in the media, world-wide, yet it’s not mentioned, except in the military news. Sad…. isn’t it?