MAPLE GROVE, Minn. – With sweat on their foreheads and tools in their hands, a group of wounded veterans came together to renovate a home that is being donated to an injured veteran in need. The event was organized by Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) Alumna Ginger MacDonald, who partnered with local WWP staff and Habitat for Humanity to coordinate volunteers and participants.
“I just wanted to give back to other veterans, just like Bob Karlstrand decided to do when he gave up his home to Habitat for Humanity,” said Ginger. “After seeing the news article on TV about him and reading the Habitat for Humanity article I was moved to be a part of it and do something constructive.”
Karlstrand is a Vietnam veteran who has been diagnosed with a terminal cancer. He gave away the house on the condition that it be given to another veteran. That recipient was Bonnie Reyna-Berg, a retired Navy veteran.
“The look on Bonnie’s face when she saw the work we were doing was pure joy,” said Ginger. “Bob was amazed when he saw the progress. It felt so great to just bask in that reaction and see how happy they were. Bonnie has already invited us to a barbeque when the house is finished and she’s settled in!”
The gathering gave injured service members and their families a chance to create memories and bond.
Events like this are part of the WWP Alumni program, which creates support through shared experiences and brings injured veterans together to build camaraderie. Many wounded service members face similar challenges adjusting to their injuries and civilian life. By bonding through events these veterans learn they are not alone, and have the chance to grow closer to those around them.
“It was so great to see veterans and civilians come together for this event,” said Ginger. “The day gave us a chance to take on tasks, focus, and get things done. We’re very mission driven people, so working together was a great bonding experience for us.”
The Alumni program is one of 20 direct programs and services offered to wounded veterans, caregivers, and families by WWP free of charge. WWP’s Benefits Service is another program that helps injured veterans, family members, and caregivers navigate the complexities of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Defense (DOD). WWP’s Benefits Service team works closely with both agencies to walk Alumni, family members, and caregivers through every step of the transition process and ensure that claims are filed and correctly processed the first time.
Since being founded in 2003, WWP has evolved its programs and services to meet the growing needs of the constituency it serves. 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. In January 2016 alone, Wounded Warrior Project served 24,488 warriors through the program pillars focused on body, mind, economic empowerment, and engagement.