WALKER, Minn., June 13, 2017 -- Larry Jacobson's idea of a "small way to do something" involved bringing an entire community together and opening the doors to his lakeside camp to Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) veterans and their families for a weekend.
The fifth annual Hiawatha Beach Weekend recently brought families together at picturesque Leech Lake. Guided fishing tours, beach volleyball, paddleboarding, boating, horseback riding, hiking trails, bicycling, golf, and swimming were available – all in a relaxing setting that allowed veterans to connect with other warriors and nature.
The Jacobson family blocked the weekend that starts the summer season for veterans and their families. People and local businesses in and around town donated food, gift cards, and their time to show their encouragement for the recovery of warriors with visible and invisible wounds. Twelve local fishing guides gave up business during the opening week of the season to take families on the lake.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla., June 12, 2017 -- FX Networks and the creative team behind the critically-acclaimed series "You're the Worst" are supporting Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) through sales of a song, "Something Like a Feeling," which was featured on a episode of the show. Song sales have raised thousands of dollars, which will support injured warriors served through WWP programs.
"You're the Worst" follows the day-to-day lives of four friends as they navigate their imperfect lives. The show has gained widespread praise for its raw depictions of relationships and coping with mental health struggles. One of the main characters in the show is an Iraq war veteran named "Edgar Quintero" who struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In an episode titled "Twenty-Two," which not only featured the song from the campaign but was critically acclaimed as one of the show's best episodes, this struggle came to a climax when he came face to face with the difficult path forward in his recovery from the invisible wounds of war.
HAMPTON, Ga., June 12, 2017 -- Life Time Athletic recently opened its doors to injured veterans taking part in a Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) Physical Health and Wellness coaching program in Atlanta. As they spent three days exploring exercise, nutrition, and lifestyle goals, warriors reaped the benefits of getting out of the house and connecting with fellow service members.
The expo kick-started a 90-day coaching program, which will empower warriors to rehabilitate themselves through physical and nutritional practices by setting goals and tracking individual progress. Warriors were tested for range of motion and learned about adaptive exercises that could be incorporated into an effective workout regimen. After learning about proper nutrition and hydration with a sports nutritionist, the group rounded out their expo experience with a Total Body Resistance Exercise (TRX) workout demo.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla., June 9, 2017 -- Dozens of veterans and family members recently took a crash course in their next career, spending four days learning everything from creating resumes to negotiating a salary.
The group heard from experts in finance, human resources, internet technology, customer service, project management, and more. The goal: identify the skills needed in each field and steer veterans toward the right track.
"This is a great stepping stone to get on the path to a career," said Navy veteran John Collins. "If you are active duty now, it is a great opportunity to get started."
SPARTANBURG, S.C., June 8, 2017 -- People-watching is a way to pass the time and enjoy your surroundings, whether it be at a shopping center, park, or busy city sidewalk. For Marine Corps veteran Joe Merritt, it triggered too many reactions.
"I would position myself against a wall or as close to it as possible," Joe said. "I was on alert, scanning the crowd for nonexistent threats. I was uncomfortable."
Joe lived with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for at least a decade before reached out for clinical help.
Warrior Care Network® is an innovative partnership between Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP), four top academic medical centers, and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Through this collaboration, warriors experience up to a year's worth of therapy in two- to three-week intensive outpatient programs. Joe received treatment at Emory Healthcare Veterans Program in Atlanta.
MIAMI, June 8, 2017 -- Luis and Gloria Garzon discovered new things in their area during a recent Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) bus tour of the Miami area.
Veterans and their families explored downtown, the beaches, Art Deco architecture of South Beach, graffiti walls in the Wynwood Art District, and parks and memorials in Little Havana aboard an English double-decker bus. Although many of the participants live in South Florida, they were surprised as they looked on their hometown from a different point of view.
"We saw Miami like we haven't seen before," said Luis, an Army Reserve veteran. "We picked this trip because we wanted some distraction from our normal routines. We saw some incredible sites. I won't forget the ride through Wynwood. I've never been to that part of Miami before. We're going to come back and see it again."
BUCHANAN DAM, Texas, June 7, 2017 -- Every time Brian Hammonds' muscles ached during a recent Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) connection event, the Texas Ranger Challenge, the Army veteran dug a little deeper and kept going.
"Nobody wants to quit around other veterans," Brian said. "I'm sure we were all tired and sore, but nobody was going to stop."
When Omar Marqueses struggled to catch his breath during the same rigorous training used by the state's top law enforcement agency, other wounded warriors empowered him to push even harder.
KANEOHE, Hawaii, June 7, 2017 -- A roaring bonfire became the spark that prompted Brian Koehn to make his first connection with other veterans at a recent Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) family day and camping trip at Secret Island.
A setting sun, volcanic mountains, and a pristine Pacific coastline was the perfect backdrop for veterans and their families to enjoy a day at the beach and a night of sharing their experiences with one another.
For Brian, the same location used during filming of "Jurassic Park" was the perfect setting for his first WWP event.
"I didn't know if I was ready to mingle with other warriors, but once the fire was lit, we just seemed to be drawn closer together and the stories started," the Marine Corps veteran said.
SAN DIEGO, June 6, 2017 -- By the time Berge Zobayan finished his third hot dog at a recent San Diego Padres-Texas Rangers game, the Army veteran felt the need to "balance" it out.
So he ate a salad.
A recent gathering of Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) veterans and their families at the Major League Baseball game was a great opportunity to enjoy America's pastime and camaraderie at the same time.
"I'm a Los Angeles Dodgers fan, but I enjoyed every bit of being at the ballpark around other warriors," Berge said. "It can be overwhelming being around big crowds, but I was very relaxed spending the day with other veterans."
LAS VEGAS, June 5, 2017 -- A recent Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) photography class empowered Denise McCarson to rely on her own conceptual instincts – not the camera's automatic function – to create breathtaking images.
The National Guard veteran borrowed a camera and started taking pictures several years ago while she was deployed. When she returned home, she bought her own camera, and photography quickly turned into one of her favorite hobbies.
"I realize I have control over the camera settings," Denise said. "I decide what I want my photo to be, not the camera. I've taken thousands of photos in the past, but now they're so much better. Photography is one thing that gives me so much pleasure."