Army Maj. Glenn Battschinger was working in Afghanistan on a civil affairs battalion, building wells and even creating a Boy Scout troop in the region.
But he really made his mark when he had a chance encounter with 6-year-old Muslam Hagigshah and his mother. Battschinger tells the TODAY Show that Muslam's mother begged him for help while he was on foot patrol.
The young boy was born with his bladder outside his body, forced to constantly hold it in his hands.
"I stopped and saw Muslam. His mom exposed him to me and she was just distraught with hopelessness."
Battschinger arranged to have the boy brought to Saint Barnabas Medical Center in New Jersey with the help of the nonprofit Healing the Children. There, one of the few doctors worldwide who could do the surgery changed Hagigshah's life.
Now, Hagigshah is living with a host family in New Jersey while he recovers, going to school and learning English. His host mom Missy Oplinger chokes up as she tells the TODAY Show about Hagigshah going back to Afghanistan.
"I think we were both meant to be because I would never let anything ever happen -- I just wouldn't let anything harm him. And I just feel like he was lucky to come to us, and we were lucky to have him."
Battschinger plans to reunite Muslam with his family later this year.