JACKSONVILLE, Fla., Dec. 30, 2016 -- In 2016, Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) Soldier Ride® journeyed coast to coast with bicycles and equipment to serve warriors in 22 cities. Over 1,600 wounded warriors and family members pedaled over 1,300 miles, experiencing everything Soldier Ride offers.
For some, attending this event was the first time they ventured out of their homes to connect with fellow veterans and the community. For others, it was the next step in an ongoing journey toward recovery by getting physically active again. Soldier Ride accommodates physical injuries and social anxieties by giving all participants custom-fitted bikes and adaptive equipment to make the ride as comfortable as possible.
CINCINNATI, Dec. 30, 2016 -- Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) recently took veteran families to a farm near Cincinnati to help them pick the perfect Christmas tree.
Opportunities like this provide a social atmosphere that encourages wounded warriors to get out of their homes and connect with other veterans and families. In a WWP survey of the injured warriors it serves, more than half of survey respondents (51.7 percent) talked with fellow Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, or Operation New Dawn veterans to address their mental health issues.
BROOKLYN, N.Y., Dec. 30, 2016 -- A group of injured veterans and their families served by Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) recently had the opportunity to attend a Brooklyn Nets basketball game and connect with other warriors. For Army veteran Carlo Arellano, it was more than just a night out with his son. It was a chance to build relationships with other warriors from his area, in an environment that took away the stress of meeting new people.
"Who doesn't love a good basketball game?" Carlo said. "Even though I'm a Knicks fan, spending time connecting with my son and other warriors was a needed energy boost for me."
ORLANDO, Fla., Dec. 30, 2016 -- Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) veterans and family members kicked off the festive holiday by making chocolate delicacies at Ferris and Foster's Famous Chocolate Factory in Orlando, Florida. The event was one of WWP's gatherings that educates warriors, their families, and caregivers about additional programs and services to help in the recovery process, creates support through shared experiences, and builds camaraderie by connecting injured veterans to one another and warrior families.
Often, the road to recovery begins by getting out of the house. WWP program events and activities are held in settings that accommodate physical injuries and social anxieties and often introduce warriors to the benefits of connecting with other injured veterans and getting involved with their communities.
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."