5 Reasons Why Prince Harry Is a Veteran's Best Friend

The former British Army captain shares a profound bond with his fellow service members

Photo: Chris Jackson/Getty

Memorial Day is not observed in the U.K. (instead they mark Remembrance Day in November), but we couldn’t let the holiday pass without looking back on one particular royal and his inspiring commitment to veterans. Prince Harry, a British Army veteran himself, has made service members’ issues a cornerstone of his public work. Here’s a look at his most moving moments with those who serve.

1. His kiss with Katie Kuiper

Nowhere was Harry’s dedication to veterans more powerful than at his Invictus Games in Orlando earlier this month. As the founder of the Paralympic-style games, the royal was on hand for all five days of inspiring sportsmanship. While congratulating medalist Katie Kuiper on May 9, Harry planted a kiss on her cheek.

“It was really special for me,” Kuiper, a former Army staff sergeant who served in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, told PEOPLE. “I feel invisible a lot of the time because of the way I look. He made me feel special.”

2. His princess moment with 6-year-old Isabelle Nixon

Following a wheelchair basketball match at Invictus on May 12, Harry jumped from the stands to congratulate the family of Adam Nixon, one of the U.K. players. He also shared a sweet moment with Nixon’s daughter, 6-year-old Isabelle, giving her a hug and chatting about the rides at Walt Disney World.

Nixon’s wife Taryn told PEOPLE that Harry’s Invictus Games have been life-changing for their family.

“He’s literally brought people back from the brink,” she said. “They’ve got something to smile for, live for. They have passion and drive that they did not have before.

Prince Harry is absolutely phenomenal,” she added. “He’s a legend.”

3. His hug with Kirstie Ennis outside Buckingham Palace

The former U.S. Marine, who was severely injured in a 2012 helicopter crash in Afghanistan, shared a remarkable exchange with Harry last November.

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After walking 1,000 miles across Britain to honor fallen service members, Ennis intended to place the final memorial dog tag outside Buckingham Palace. But she was overwhelmed with emotion and instead placed it in Harry’s hand.

“No I can’t, I can’t accept this,” a clearly moved Harry said.

“Please, you know what this means to me, I want you to,” Ennis replied, fighting back her tears.

4. His candor about the invisible wounds of war

Throughout his work with veterans, Harry has continued to shine a light on the “invisible injuries” of war, opening up to PEOPLE about his own experiences and why he has made the issue a priority.

“Most of the flashbacks I’ve had have not been that brutal,” said the two-time Afghanistan vet. “I haven t seen what other guys have seen. There’s all sorts of things that can happen through your life, that if you don’t deal with it, you don’t talk about it, then it can end up affecting you in later life.”

At the same time, he shared how helpless he felt during various points on his tour – and how it inspired him to launch Invictus.

Prince Harry Tells PEOPLE How His Mother Inspires His Current Mission

During certain missions, “You think to yourself, ‘Could we have got there quicker? Could we have done anything different?’ Ninety-nine percent of the time not a chance. So you have Prince Harry in a $57 million aircraft in a helpless position. Then I come back and I say, ‘How can I use my name and that spotlight to the best effect?’ ”

5. His instant connection with this veteran’s service dog

On May 6 in Orlando, Harry met with 2-year-old Golden Retriever Jasmine, a service dog who can sense when her owner, Air Force veteran David Romero, has a PTSD attack coming on and alert him to it so he can take preventative medication.

“The prince has helped change the view of veterans like me who’ve got invisible injuries,” Romero told PEOPLE. “These guys have given me such inspiration and I’d like to try out for next year’s games. To have the prince backing us on it gives the world visibility to it.”

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