KEY LARGO, Fla., Jan. 11, 2017 -- A group of injured veterans and family members had a front row seat to view the Florida Keys wildlife during a recent Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) snorkeling excursion. As they explored natural coral reefs, warriors experienced firsthand what is possible at social events that connect them with fellow service members in their community.
"My wife and I love snorkeling, and I was looking forward to meeting new warriors," said Army veteran Anthony Sanchez. "That was the best part – talking with my military buddies and sharing the experience of snorkeling with them."
JACKSONVILLE, Fla., Jan. 11, 2017 -- A group of injured veterans and family members took in a few hours of live professional wrestling during a recent Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) outing to WWE® SmackDown Live. They also experienced firsthand what is possible at social gatherings that get them out of the house and connected with fellow service members.
More than 100 participants began their evening at WWP headquarters, where they dined on pizza while staff members informed them about programs and services that help in the recovery process. Through the generosity of donors, these programs are available to warriors and their families at no cost to them.
Wounded Warrior Project looks forward to working with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary nominee Dr. David Shulkin to continue to reform the agency and ensure that veterans receive comprehensive, top-quality medical care. Throughout his time at the VA, Dr. Shulkin has shown a veteran focus, seeing patients regularly despite his administrative role. He also brings experience leading some of the nation’s top private sector hospitals. We're hopeful that, with his focus and experience, Dr. Shulkin will be able to transform and modernize the VA to make it a better health care option for wounded warriors, and to fulfill President Lincoln's promise “To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan” by serving and honoring the men and women who are America’s Veterans.
ORLANDO, Fla., Jan. 10, 2017 -- Rebecca Benton's first Naval duty station was at Camp Pendleton, California, where she served in the medical field as a Fleet Marine Force (FMF) Corpsman after enduring the same training program as her U.S. Marine counterparts, which allows Navy sailors to work in partnership with Marines. "I knew that was where I belonged," Rebecca said. "I served 11 years with the Marines – a brotherhood like no other."
During that time, Rebecca married an infantry Marine, and they soon added three children to their family. The responsibilities weighing on dual-service couples can be intimidating. The two began shuffling field duty schedules and deployments – and missing birthdays, anniversaries, and other family celebrations.
COLUMBUS, Ohio, Jan. 9, 2017 -- They stood there, side-by-side: wounded veterans next to National Guard members, holding an American flag that nearly spanned the length of the field at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus. As the national anthem ended, fireworks shot into the sky. It was a moment Marine Corps veteran Roman Sena will always cherish.
"It was extremely special walking out on the field to hold the national flag," Roman said. "Everyone was screaming 'USA, USA, USA' as we walked past. The feeling I got is something impossible to put into words."
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M., Jan. 6, 2017 -- With a few glances of his eyes, Erik can hop on social media to post a picture or surf to YouTube to play the latest Wu-Tang Clan video. He also can better communicate with the loved ones who are part of his daily routine. Technology helps Erik live a life comparable to any young man across America. He almost didn't have this opportunity. More than 11 years ago, a bullet fired by a sniper in Iraq struck Erik's head, leaving him paralyzed.
Erik was just 21 years old at the time. While doctors recommended a nursing home, his parents decided they would be his caregivers, sacrificing their personal lives to ensure Erik would have the best life possible, instead of spending all his time with senior citizens.
DENVER, Jan. 6, 2017 -- Chad Prichard's journey to a new life was not easy every step of the way, but he never lost the will to fight. He credits Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) for giving him the tools needed to stay the course and empowering him to overcome any barriers he encountered.
Chad began his Army career in 1995 as a reserve soldier with the 179th Transportation Company out of Belton, Missouri. When 9/11 rocked the nation, his unit was called to prepare for deployment. He deployed to Iraq in 2002 – not as a heavy vehicle operator, but as a trained civil affairs specialist with the 418th Civil Affairs Battalion.
COLUMBUS, Ohio, Jan. 6, 2017 -- For many units in the U.S. Marine Corps, a popular mantra is "improvise, adapt, and overcome." That's exactly what a group of physically impaired Swedish athletes did in the 1960s when they invented a way to play hockey – thus sled hockey was born. Recently, the Ohio Warriors sled hockey team joined a group of Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) veterans to teach them the ins and outs of the game. As they tried a new sport, warriors experienced firsthand what is possible at social events that get them out of the house and connected with fellow service members.
In addition to donating ice time for the lesson, the Ohio Warriors provided WWP veterans with everything they needed to play, including the dual sticks and bladed sleds. To solidify the connection between the two groups, each person received a special WWP hockey jersey.
DELRAY BEACH, Fla., Jan. 5, 2017 -- The Delray Beach Police Department recently honored a group of injured veterans served by Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP). The ceremony featured a breakfast, golf tournament, and special presentation by the mayor of Delray Beach that recognized wounded service members.
Warriors teamed up with law enforcement officers for the 18-hole game, and among them was Army veteran Eddie O'Neal. He said the ceremony where he and 24 other warriors were honored was humbling because of the respect he has for others who serve outside the military.
MARION, Ala., Jan. 5, 2017 -- The chill in the air is a sign of more than just the arrival of winter – it's the arrival of deer season in Alabama. For a group of injured service members served by Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP), it was not only a chance to bag a prize buck, but it was also an opportunity to see old friends – and make new ones.
"When you pull up to the main gate with the Wounded Warrior Project flag flying alongside the American flag, it blows you away," said Air Force veteran John Hacker. "The beautiful land and scenery really puts you in a good place. It's peaceful, and the staff pull you in and make you feel like part of the family. From the first handshake, I felt welcome."