PITTSBURGH, Dec. 30, 2016 -- The holiday spirit was in full force at the Pittsburgh Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) office, where injured veterans and family members recently enjoyed a winter wonderland gathering. Warriors had the opportunity to connect with fellow service members in their community and learn about various WWP programs and resources.
"Connection events allow wounded warriors to step outside, meet new people, and form friendships," said Army veteran Tom Lieb, who attended with his wife. "We look forward to them for that very reason. It creates a sense of community and allows us to enjoy ourselves without having to worry. You know there are people around you can speak to and trust."
ROCKLEDGE, Fla., Dec. 30, 2016 -- During a recent Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) outing to ClayZ Arts, injured veterans and family members took a break from the hectic pace of the holiday season and gathered for a ceramics painting session. As they added personal touches to various clay crafts, participants experienced firsthand what is possible at social events that get them out of the house and connected with fellow service members.
Wounded warriors and guests gathered at the art studio where instructors taught them the basic techniques of painting intricate ceramic sculptures using a rainbow of glazes. From sculptures to coffee mugs to holiday serving platters, each participant was able to customize an item to be fired in the kiln. They were also able to form friendships with other military families in their community.
LOS ANGELES, Dec. 29, 2016 -- A group of wounded veterans joined Hollywood celebrities during the 11th Annual Celebrity Golf Classic on the greens of Saticoy Country Club. Hosted by GOTT Entertainment, the tournament brought together actor Michael Pena ("Ant-Man," "The Martian," "Shooter"), Hall of Fame NFL running back Marshall Faulk, and Grant Show ("Devious Maids"), among others, to raise support for the wounded warriors, caregivers, and families Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) serves.
Army veteran and experienced golfer Ryan Fowler was one of the warriors in attendance. Golf is a sport that has had a significant impact on his return to civilian life.
SAN DIEGO, Dec. 29, 2016 -- With Thanksgiving in the past and more holidays ahead, Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) recently provided injured veterans and guests a break from the hustle and bustle of the season. The group attended a holiday dinner at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot's Bay View Restaurant. As they dined and socialized, injured veterans experienced firsthand what is possible at social events that connect them with fellow service members.
"I have a hard time getting out of the house, and activities like this help me," said Coast Guard veteran Kristopher Moorehead. "I know I'm going to be around other people who are like me, so we're already on the same page. Plus, we often get to do things that we wouldn't normally do, which has been very good for my family."
KANSAS CITY, Mo., Dec. 29, 2016 -- With Santa Claus eating too many cookies to count on Christmas Eve, it is no wonder so many families are busy baking this time of year. During a recent Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) connection event at a cooking school, professional chefs helped injured veterans and family members bake and decorate holiday cookies. In addition to receiving baking tips, participants had the opportunity to connect with fellow military families in their community.
Donning their WWP aprons, wounded warriors and their families set to work measuring, mixing, and baking sweet favorites such as sugar cookies and snickerdoodles. The baking session was a great learning – and bonding – experience for Army veteran Paul Thompson and his young daughter.
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., Dec. 28, 2016 -- During a recent Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) outreach event, injured veterans and their families added a personal touch to their holiday decorations by designing cards and ornaments. The kid-friendly event was an opportunity for military families to connect with fellow warriors in their community.
Army veteran Christopher Gorman saw the gathering as a chance to bring his wife and kids to a festive event and spend time with other service members.
"I appreciate any opportunity for my family to connect with others during the holiday season," he said. "Even something as simple as making an ornament can have a positive emotional impact."
JACKSONVILLE, Fla., Dec. 28, 2016 -- As we near 2017, Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) prepares to surpass 100,000 registered warriors – men and women who sacrificed for our country, and who now need our support. Wounded Warrior Project's mission is to honor and empower our nation's wounded warriors, families, and caregivers, and we accomplish it through a connect, serve, and empower model of program delivery.
In 2016, WWP refocused its efforts on connecting warriors with their peers and communities while delivering life-saving programs and services to injured veterans, their caregivers, and families. The veterans' charity served nearly 95,000 warriors and nearly 21,000 family members – providing mental and physical health and wellness services, career and benefits counseling, and critical support for the most severely injured. WWP empowers warriors to live life on their terms and mentor other veterans to do the same.
BALTIMORE, Dec. 27, 2016 -- At the recent Army vs. Navy football game, a group of warriors served by Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) toured the ESPN College GameDay set. The gathering was part of WWP's connection program, which provides opportunities for injured veterans to form bonds in settings that accommodate physical injuries and social anxieties.
"Events like this are a chance to get off the couch and put yourself out there," said Navy veteran Damian Smith. "For me, these gatherings are about connecting with other veterans who likely have shared experiences and shared values. It's laughing about the funny stuff that happened to us and reminiscing about our service. Those are moments that I need in my life."
JACKSONVILLE, Fla., Dec. 23, 2016 -- Coast Guard veteran Darren "Red" Rankin had the look of a kid waking up on Christmas morning when he saw what was stacked in a conference room at Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) headquarters in Jacksonville. DEWALT®, a corporate partner and supporter of WWP, provided a bounty of yellow boxes and packaging, filled with tools and supplies.
"That is amazing," Red said, marveling at the stack of equipment. "That's really amazing." He and his wife began to weep openly, hugging each other. These tools are more than just a donated gift – they are hope for their future.
BRANSON, Mo., Dec. 22, 2016 -- A group of injured veterans and their spouses were treated to the ultimate "dinner and a show" date experience during a recent Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) program event. The couples enjoyed a four-course meal at Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede® as they connected with fellow veterans in their community. While participants dined – without utensils, per Dixie Stampede custom – they enjoyed a holiday-themed live-action show, featuring more than 30 horses, trick riders, stunts, and musical performances.
Dustin Baggs, a retired Army combat engineer, said he and his wife were excited about the opportunity to attend the connection gathering. Having gone through five surgeries in the past year, he said it was a welcome chance to get out and enjoy each other's company, as well as the companionship of fellow warriors.