L.A. specialists give wounded veterans ‘rock star’ care
Stars and Stripes June 14, 2007
ARLINGTON, Va. — A new foundation that provides free cosmetic surgery to wounded veterans is determined to give troops the same kind of “rock star” treatment Hollywood celebrities get.
IraqStar, a California nonprofit organization, is offering plastic surgery to veterans, picking up where the Department of Veterans Affairs leaves off.
“IraqStar” was coined to evoke famous musicians by its founder, by Maggie Lockridge, a retired Vietnam-era Air Force nurse who lives in Rancho Mirage, Calif.
After leaving the Air Force to marry a fighter pilot, Lockridge spent the next 18 years focusing on the plastic and reconstructive surgery field.
Lockridge moved to Los Angeles in 1987 and began to interact with the rich and famous as a cosmetic-surgery consultant and owner of an aftercare center for cosmetic surgery patients.
With a clientele that included “A” list movie stars, powerful businesswomen and other Hollywood movers-and-shakers, Lockridge “got to know every surgeon and doctor [in the area] who does this work,” she told Stars and Stripes in a telephone interview.
Those same big names are now ready to donate care to IraqStar veterans, Lockridge said.
“The response has been fantastic,” she said.
IraqStar’s roster of volunteers includes some of L.A.’s best-known plastic surgeons and burn specialists, Lockridge said.
Two who have already provided their services are Dr. Richard Grossman, founder of the Grossman Burn Center at Sherman Oaks Hospital in Santa Ana, Calif., and Dr. Norman Leaf, a plastic surgeon who practices in Beverly Hills.
So far, IraqStar is treating three veterans, including Marine Staff Sgt. Paul McQuigg, who was injured by a roadside bomb in Iraq and has received care from Leaf, and Michael Briggs, who is receiving attention from Grossman for scarring.
Lockridge said she was inspired to help wounded troops in February after watching a television special about ABC anchorman Bob Woodruff, who was nearly killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq in January 2006.
Woodruff was evacuated through the military medical system and spent weeks receiving treatment and recuperating at Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland.
His case made Lockridge realize that while the Veteran’s Administration “is doing the best it can, it’s not perfect yet.”
IraqStar’s goal is not to point fingers “or make the VA look bad,” Lockridge said. “We need the VA to refer people to us.
“We just want to take up where the VA leaves off.”
For more information on IraqStar, go to www.iraqstar.org.