As a Los Angeles City Fireman, spending most of the last decade of my career in South Los Angeles, I have witnessed pain and suffering as I’ve treated one of the largest stable homeless populations in the country. Many of our homeless men and women are fallen war veterans, many have drug and alcohol addictions and post-traumatic stress disorder from their experiences in war and surprising as it may seem, many chose to live the life they are in. Further to my day job, I am active as a terrorism liaison officer with the joint regional intelligence center in Los Angeles and understand as a first-responder what we face as a country dealing with the reality that we are protecting our freedom from terrorism on our own soil.
While my freedom, our freedom and the effects of our wars on our people are a product of my daily life, I had never really thought about the people on the other side of our conflicts. I recently found myself drawn to a television program that was talking about landmines in Cambodia. I naively questioned, “why were they looking for bombs in a Cambodia jungle if there is no current conflict in that region?”
Hours passed, yet the program still weighed heavily on my mind. I sought answers on the internet. I had never thought about what happens after war in other countries. I never gave any thought as to what the people of the country must deal with post-conflict. These bombs in Cambodia are from a war that did not occur in my lifetime or theirs, yet they are still plaguing the people of this country. It is hard to fathom casualties of war occurring 50 years later, but that is a reality for the people of Cambodia. If nothing is done to aid the efforts of MAG, this almost certainly will continue on for another 50 years.
The more I learned the more I realized I couldn’t turn a blind eye, I needed to get involved. For American’s choice and freedom is our constitutional right. We have the freedom to choose to be what we want, do what we want and evolve and change our future in any way we want. For the people of Cambodia, they don’t have this choice because the war is still occurring and crippling their people and their country. I realized my humanitarian calling was taking me abroad to learn what I could do to help end the war for the people of Cambodia and help them become a complete society once more. And in that, the Complete Cambodia project was born.
The goal of the Complete Cambodia project is to fundraise and create dialogue about this forgotten problem in a country that is still impacted by our war. With our support of MAG, the people of Cambodia will one day have their land back without the fear of bombs and mines. Their society will finally be free to develop, creating opportunity for self-sustainability and economic growth. Cambodia can finally become complete.