From Philly.com • By Stu Bykofsky

WHEN JERRY Majetich took his ears off, I blinked my eyes.

His real ears were burned off - along with his right fingers and 35 percent of the skin on his body - in a 2005 attack in Al Dora, Iraq, where as an Army staff sergeant in psychological operations, his assignment was to win hearts and minds.

Al Qaeda put a $25,000 bounty on his head and distributed a picture of him and his vehicle - easy to spot because of its mounted loudspeakers. On Oct. 29, 2005, two artillery shells bundled with 50 gallons of propane hit Majetich’s armored Humvee, resulting in many wounds, 2 1/2 years in the hospital, a face left shiny from the burns and surgery.

But this is less a story of past pain than of future promise. The pain has been real - 57 surgeries so far to repair a lot of damage - but while Majetich is physically scarred, he is mentally sound. He removed his prosthetic ears to illustrate the totality of his wounds. Earlier, Majetich, 41 - a veteran of both the Marines and the Army - didn’t flinch from a handshake for which he offered a hand that was more like a nub.

It’s that double-edged sword - physically wounded but mentally sound - that made him an ideal candidate for the Wall Street Warfighters Foundation (WSWF), which turns wounded warriors into financial-service professionals.

These veterans are the few of the few - the men and women returning from voluntary military service with permanent wounds in addition to their campaign ribbons.

I’m sitting at a conference table across from Majetich, who has an easy smile. He is flanked by Ben Downing, a Brooklyn native in his 30s who was an Army staff sergeant specializing in communications, and Cauldon Quinn, 38, an Annapolis graduate who was a logistics officer until 9/11, when he volunteered for a combat assignment in Afghanistan. Downing served in Iraq and has a torn-up right knee and lower-back problems. Quinn’s issues include damage to both knees and torn ligaments in his left hand. He’s had 13 surgeries.

To be admitted to Wall Street Warfighters, candidates must have a 30 percent or greater service-related injury suffered in a combat theater.

The nonprofit WSWF outfit is housed in the for-profit Drexel Hamilton, a Center City boutique broker-dealer founded by wounded vets and dealing with institutional accounts, “not mom-and-pop accounts,” says Quinn, who came through WSWF and is now Drexel Hamilton’s chief financial officer and a walking, talking testimonial for the program.

Drexel Hamilton CEO Lawrence Doll - a Vietnam-wounded Marine scout - said he, Harry Gobora and Brooks Hulitt were thinking about how to help their wounded brothers (and sisters) in arms. Getting vets jobs in financial services seemed like a good idea, but you don’t walk into those jobs right off the street - or from a VA hospital.

About two years ago, WSWF began offering vets - 20 so far - education and training leading to hands-on experience at Drexel Hamilton, which sponsors them in getting their broker-dealer license. With licenses in hand, the vets can go anywhere.

The cost for the six-month WSWF program, says Quinn, is about $35,000 per vet, which includes travel, lodging and incidentals. (Donations can be made through WallStreetWarfighters.org.)

“We want a chance of success, so we select those with aptitude and excellence in their military career,” says Quinn, a native of Chester Springs.

The strapping Downing, who has done stand-up at New York clubs, says he “found there are a variety of different specialities in the industry,” and is searching for the perfect fit.

When Majetich starts work, he’ll actually lose money, but

he’ll be earning money instead of taking government benefits for his disability. A single father of three, he wants to work and be a role model for his children.

The veterans aren’t looking for a handout, says Quinn, a father of four preteen sons, who notes that the usual Wall Street mentality is to scour the Ivy League for candidates. “We’re asking for parity, not priority,” he says.

When a wounded vet goes for a job, Majetich says with a knowing laugh, “They ask, ‘Do you work well under pressure or stress?’ ” How does a bad day on Wall Street match up with even a good day in a Humvee in Iraq?

“Jerry is discriminated against, sometimes,” Quinn says. “They don’t even know how to react to him,” because of his visible wounds.

Here’s how to react, to all veterans, says Doll: Say thank you and offer them an opportunity to serve your company, as they have served your country.