When U.S. Army Major Glenn Battschinger started his mission in Afghanistan in 2010, he knew he wanted to do something to help the hundreds of children who came to visit him and other soldiers on the base.
"The kids wanted attention and needed something to do," he told People. Thinking of his Eagle Scout sons back home, Battschinger decided to start a scouting troop. He was given permission by village leaders, and established the Qasabah Troop No. 1 for about 40 children. They met every Saturday, and learned the Boy Scout pledge, how to tie knots and give first aid, and more. Today, there are dozens of troops in five provinces, made possible by a $100,000 grant from the Department of Defense, and Battschinger still hears from young people he met through scouting who say they are using the skills he taught them.
Battschinger didn't stop with the scouts. While in Afghanistan, he met seven-year-old Bilal Sharif, a boy who worked in a brick factory. He had a club foot and bladder exstrophy, meaning part of his bladder was outside of his body. It is an incredibly painful condition, and Battschinger pledged to get him treatment. He found a surgeon, Dr. Moneer Hanna in New Hyde Park, New Jersey, who agreed to do the surgeries for free, and a host family. Bilal needs a few more surgeries, but should be able to go home in a year. He has nothing but admiration for Battschinger. "[He's] the best hero I ever met in America or Afghanistan," he said.