ST. PAUL, Minn. (February 20, 2016) – Armed with their hands and their grit, a group of Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) Alumni practiced and honed their self-defense techniques at a training seminar sponsored by WWP. Instructed by former Navy SEAL Al Horner, the women-only group of wounded veterans learned skills through the “Not Me!” self-defense course that empowers participants with skills to prevent attacks and escape in the event of a worst case scenario.
“Our discussion focused on how not to be a victim,” explained Ginger MacDonald, Army veteran and WWP Alumna. “Al was super knowledgeable and made the lessons and techniques very accessible to first-timers. It wasn’t about strength, but about knowledge, and how a few simple techniques can make anyone safer. I’m going to show my nieces everything I learned the next time I see them.”
Since the creation of “Not Me!” training, over 12,000 women and girls have benefitted from an increased sense of confidence. Providing female Alumni and family support members the opportunity to strengthen their confidence and defend themselves, directly supports WWP’s mission to honor and empower Wounded Warriors. As a bonus, each woman who successfully completed the training course received a canister of pepper spray and a hand-held “screamer,” which emits a continuous piercing alarm to deter attackers.
“I feel much safer after going through the training,” said Ginger. “I also bought a Taser, just to be sure!”
After three hours of strenuous training, the attendees relaxed and enjoyed a nourishing meal that offered a chance to talk with fellow injured veterans.
“We were there with other Wounded Warrior Project Alumni and their families, including one couple who brought their daughter,” said Ginger. “It offered us a great chance to get to know each other and network a bit.”
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, these veterans learn they are not alone.
“I feel that WWP has saved our lives in many ways, and a big part of that is thanks to the community and camaraderie I have experienced with this organization,” said Ginger. “WWP came into my life when I needed it most. It’s always been there for me and for other veterans around me. It cannot be said enough how important it is for the Alumni to have a safe place where they can come together.”
The day’s training session also carried a deeply personal significance for Ginger and her partner.
“As we went through different scenarios, the instructors were very careful to make sure we felt safe and that we were okay with the different methods being shown,” said Ginger. “My partner had a hard time because she was a victim of an attack. The instructors were very kind and thoughtful, and they gave those who weren’t comfortable a chance to step outside if needed.”
The Alumni program is one of 20 free programs and services WWP offers wounded veterans, their caregivers, and families. One such program is WWP Peer Support, which gives successfully readjusted injured service members and caregivers a chance to serve as mentors to provide support and encouragement to their peers who are on their respective roads to recovery. Peer mentors receive training specifically designed to help them assist their peers as role models, motivators, and friends. The goal of the Peer Support program is for every mentored veteran to eventually mentor another. By becoming a peer mentor, injured service members who once were the warrior being carried off the battlefield have the opportunity to become the warrior who carries others, thus embodying the WWP logo.