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WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla., Jan. 12, 2017 -- Worn wooden paintbrushes and sticky, vibrant paint on fingertips can call on childhood recollections of art class. Warriors and families who attended a recent Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) connection event now have fresher memories of exploring their artistic talents – as they enjoyed a pizza dinner and learned about WWP programs at a local pottery studio.

Bernadette Blauvelt, whose husband is a National Guard veteran, owns B Creative Painting Studio and understands the importance of connection in the recovery process. She said she was thrilled to host warriors and families at this WWP gathering.

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ANN ARBOR, Mich., Jan. 12, 2017 -- During a recent Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) outing, a group of injured veterans and family members tried their hands at the truly unique game of Whirlyball. The gathering gave warriors a chance to connect with fellow service members and build support networks that help with healthy recoveries.

"Attending events like this gives us that sense of camaraderie we lost when we left military service," said Army veteran Jesse Babson. "For a few hours, we are back among that group of people where we can be ourselves. I don't know where I would be without the support of Wounded Warrior Project."

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ORLANDO, Fla., Jan. 12, 2017 -- A group of Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) veterans and family members got to experience a day in the life of a chocolatier during a recent candy-making connection event. As they dabbled in the creation of custom confections, participants experienced what is possible at social events that connect them with fellow service members in their community.

Under the guidance of an expert, the group set about making chocolates with a variety of molds and toppings. In addition to learning a new skill, they were able to bring their sweet treats home with them.

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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."

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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.

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Wounded Warrior Project statement on U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary nominee

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.

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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."

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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.

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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.

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