Cablegate: Estonia: Nomination for 2009 Secretary's


DE RUEHTL #0372/01 3011414
R 271414Z OCT 08




E.O. 12958: N/A

REF: STATE 99729

1. (U) SUMMARY. Embassy Tallinn is pleased to nominate
Sergeant-Major Jaune Engel for the 2009 Secretary's
International Women of Courage (IWOC) Award. As a member of
the Estonian Defense Forces ('ESTCOY-4') unit deployed in
southern Afghanistan, Jaune Engel has shown remarkable
courage by volunteering to serve in Afghanistan and
maintaining her steadfast commitment to serving her country
even after being severely wounded in a rocket attack. Jaune
Engel has emerged as symbol of triumph in the face of extreme
personal adversity. She represents personal strength and
Estonia's unwavering support for the global war on terrorism.

2. (U) Embassy Tallinn is pleased to nominate Sergeant-Major
Jaune Engel, a nurse assigned to the ESTCOY-4 unit, for the
2009 Secretary's International Women of Courage Award. The
following information is provided as requested in reftel.

3. (U) Biographic information:
Name: Jaune Engel
Title: Sergeant Major in the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF).
Sergeant Major Engel serves as a nurse in the EDF.
Date of Birth: April 8, 1973
Citizenship: Estonian
Address, Telephone, and Email: Madala 24-13, Tallinn Estonia,
Passport Number: K3326621

4. (U) Justification: Estonia has contributed to the NATO-led
International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan (ISAF)
since 2003. Approximately 140 Estonian troops are currently
deployed as part of the United Kingdom-led Task Force that
conducts both combat and reconstruction operations in the
province of Helmand in southern Afghanistan. Helmand is by
far one of, if not the most, dangerous provinces in
Afghanistan ' the epicenter of opium production and a
stronghold for insurgents and drug lords alike.' Taliban
fighters have long used the mountains of northern Helmand as
a staging base for terrorist actions against ISAF troops.
Estonia is one of the few NATO Allies willing to insert their
troops in this perilous territory. ESTCOY-4, Jaune Engel's
unit, patrolled regularly in northern Helmand. All members
of the unit took part in unit operations; Nurse Jaune Engel
was no exception.

On June 23, 2007, Camp Bastion, where the ESTCOY-4 was based,
came under rocket attack from insurgent forces. The Estonian
unit received the worst of the attack; two Estonian soldiers
were killed instantly and four were wounded. One of the
rockets exploded close to Jaune Engel, critically wounding
her. She awoke in a field hospital to discover she had lost
half of her right leg and was unable to see from her right
eye. The attack was especially poignant for Estonians as it
happened on their Victory Day, a holiday that commemorates
the heroic sacrifices of Estonians during their Independence
War in 1919-1920. This was also the first fatalities Estonia
had suffered since joining the ISAF mission in Afghanistan.

British forces medivaced Jaune Engel to England for immediate
treatment. It was soon apparent that Jaune Engel would face
a long and difficult recovery. Given the severity of her
injuries, the Estonian Minister of Defense formally requested
the U.S. Department of Defense accept Nurse Engel into a U.S.
military medical facility for treatment. In November 2007,
Jaune Engel traveled to Walter Reed Medical Center in
Washington, DC to complete her prosthetics and undergo
rehabilitation for her amputated lower right leg. In a
meeting with Ambassador prior to her departure, Nurse Engel
showed her spirited approach to adversity. She told
Ambassador that her chief desire in receiving treatment in
the United States was to be able to return to active military
service so that she could return to Afghanistan and complete
her mission. She remained at Walter Reed for nine months.
During that time, she underwent challenging physical
rehabilitation at the Military Advanced Training Center for
Soldier Amputees.

Before volunteering to join the EDF as a medical specialist,
Nurse Engel spent 12 years at the Estonian Cancer Center in
the surgery department. In 2006, after one and a half years
in the EDF Medical Services Corps, Jaune volunteered to take
part in Estonian's mission to Afghanistan. She deployed as
the nurse for ESTCOY-4, a motorized infantry company, and
arrived in Afghanistan in May 2007. According to Nurse
Engel, she was motivated to join EDF because she felt the

need to do something more with her life and thought the
military offered the challenge she was seeking.

Publicly and privately Nurse Engel has emphasized that,
despite her injuries, she does not regret her decision to
volunteer for military service. Now back in Estonia, she is
working on a comparative analysis of U.S. and British
military medical systems and services for injured soldiers.
Based on this analysis, she is looking at ways the EDF can
improve its treatment of casualties (e.g. establishing
support groups for injured soldiers).

Sergeant-Major Jaune Engel's remarkable courage and
commitment to service in the face of her life altering
injuries makes her our clear choice for the 2009
International Women of Courage Award.

5. (U) Sergeant-Major Jaune Engel has been notified of her
nomination for this award.


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