MARION, Ala.(February 4, 2016) – A group of wounded veterans got together recently to enjoy a four-day hunting trip, planned by Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP).
Many wounded service members face similar challenges adjusting to their injuries and civilian life. The WWP Alumni program creates support through shared experiences and builds camaraderie by bringing injured veterans together. By bonding through events and programs, these veterans learn they are not alone. The WWP Alumni program is one of 20 life-saving programs and services offered free of charge to wounded service members, their caregivers, and families.
“The trip was so much more than I expected, and I learned a lot,” said Army veteran and WWP Alumnus Ernesto Jimenez. “That was my first hunting trip, and the people at the event helped me out so much. They gave us everything we needed to be successful out there, whether it was gear or instructions.”
Ernesto got two deer on the hunt while the other 11 WWP Alumni harvested six deer among them. One of the bucks came “close to Alabama records,” according to the staff at Iron Horse Farms, who have hosted this hunting event for three years now. Along with deer hunting, participants were also given the opportunity to fish on a private lake. The evening provided an opportunity for the Alumni to sit around a campfire, share stories and food, and enjoy camaraderie that many have missed since leaving the military.
“We were joking around and having a good time, talking about whatever we wanted,” said Ernesto. “Some of us opened up about how we became involved with Wounded Warrior Project, and some of us even talked about our experiences overseas."
Since being founded in 2003, WWP has evolved its programs and services to meet the growing needs of the constituency it serves. Currently, more than 100,000 wounded service members, their family members, and caregivers receive support each year through free WWP programs and services. Through a high-touch and interactive approach, the WWP vision is to foster the most successful, well-adjusted generation of wounded service members in our nation’s history.
“We were treated like family,” Ernesto said. “Wounded Warrior Project and Iron Horse Farms went beyond what anyone else would do. If we wanted to talk about anything, we could. It made me realize there are people just like me and that they have been through similar situations as me. I feel more at ease knowing that I’m not the only person going through a difficult time and there are other people here to support me.”