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Operation Mend

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Retired Army Sergeant Jason March has come a long way since a sniper in Iraq shot him behind his right ear eight years ago. "The entire right side of my face was pretty much reconstructed."

"80 surgeries on your face? "

"Yes, over 80 surgeries"

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

Today, a medical tattoo artist is putting 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.

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."

"I can get in front of any camera and do anything now and feel better now about doing it."

March 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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