TEMPE, Ariz., Oct. 13, 2017 -- Even though Arizona has no ocean coastline, veterans and their families recently had the opportunity to master the art of surfing in Tempe thanks to Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP).
WWP partnered with Big Surf to offer veterans and their families five weeks of surf sessions. While surfing is often recognized for its physical health benefits, it also promotes mental health by offering warriors the opportunity to connect with fellow service members. All WWP connection events support the long-term recovery of warriors by providing a chance to build lasting support structures.
Army veteran Jesus Ibarra said he always wanted to surf. Not only did he fulfill his dream, but he also met other service members who can relate to his struggles.
ROCK HILL, S.C., Oct. 11, 2017 -- Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) Soldier Ride®, presented by USAA®, continued its roll across America to serve another community of wounded warriors. In South Carolina, over 40 warriors hit the road and began building a local network of veterans that can provide critical support on the path to recovery.
Army veteran Triron James showed up for the ride to get more than just a workout on the bicycle underneath him.
"I wanted to link up with other veterans and get that sense of unity back," Triron said. "I came out here hoping to challenge myself physically, but also to learn more life skills and build a network with other veterans in my community. We all have that service history in common, but it's surprising how quickly everyone has come together. Everything comes back together to give us that sense of unity. We're all motivating each other, supporting each other. I needed that, and I need it in my day-to-day life."
DALLAS, Oct. 11, 2017 -- Warrior couples from across the nation regularly attend Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) multi-day mental health workshops that are held regionally. These gatherings are often the first time warriors leave their homes as couples to connect with other veterans and the local community.
"I'm not the same person that I used to be," said Marc Harrington, U.S. Army National Guard (ANG) wounded warrior from Louisville, Texas. Marc and his wife, Brittnay, were married in 2015. She is also an injured veteran who served in the ANG. She introduced Marc to WWP after he returned from his last deployment and learned that he was to be medically retired due to his injuries. "My invisible wounds have impacted my family and marriage. I don't want to just hang out. And when I'm upset – I don't want to talk it out. I walk away. Eighty percent of the time, I'm secluding myself from life."
Through the generous support of donors, WWP offers veterans specialized mental health programs and services – tailored to each warrior's specific needs and free of charge.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla., Oct. 6, 2017 -- There's a lot of resources that go into serving over 100,000 wounded warriors, their family members, and caregivers. Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) is able to provide free programs and services and meet the needs of those we serve, because of donors like you. But for those who are unsure about how they can support WWP, there are many ways to get involved.
CINCINNATI, Oct. 4, 2017 -- After months of support from the Cincinnati Reds baseball team, veterans served by Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) enjoyed one more evening game at the Great American Ball Park. Since July, the Cincinnati Reds and pitcher Scott Feldman have been donating tickets to warriors and their families as part of a campaign designed to give back to injured veterans. Army veteran Joseph Fichter said it was humbling to learn about Scott's background with the military and how he chooses to help the warriors served by WWP.
"It was awesome that Scott took time out of his day to sign items and speak with us," Joseph said. "Also, during batting practice we got see to Joey Votto give a ball and pair of batting gloves to one of the warriors and his son because his son loves Joey."
Joseph is a true Reds fan, good seasons or bad, and his special plus-one at the game was his daughter, Teegan. The baseball game was more than just a chance for warriors and their family members to come together for a night of camaraderie – it was a chance to build support systems that help with recovery from the wounds of war.
CHICAGO, Oct. 4, 2017 -- As Hope Cruttendan tells it, Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) provided courage at a time when she needed it most. She served her nation in the National Guard, in Iraq.
Her separation from the military left her feeling isolated and depressed. She first registered with WWP in 2012 but waited years to get involved.
"At first, I didn't do anything because I was injured and didn't think I could do the things Wounded Warrior Project was doing," Hope said.
While dealing with her injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Hope found a new battle. Doctors diagnosed her with two types of cancer. That's when she turned back to WWP for encouragement.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla., Oct. 2, 2017 -- Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) will once again participate in the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC), the world's largest annual workplace charitable giving campaign. CFC provides an opportunity for military and civilian federal employees to support causes they believe in.
The funds raised through CFC provide WWP the support needed to ensure its programs and services continue to be provided free of charge to warriors, their families, and caregivers. These resources help with mental and physical health, career and benefits counseling, connecting warriors with one another and their communities, and long-term support for the most seriously wounded.
The programs and services support both immediate and long-term recovery by smoothing the transition into civilian life and empowering warriors to build support structures. The simple act of attending an event with fellow warriors can reintroduce injured veterans to the unique bonds experienced during military service. Rarely duplicated in the civilian world, these relationships act as a secure bedrock that paves the road to recovery.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla., Sept. 29, 2017 -- Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) relies on the support of donors, including individual supporters, corporate partners, and even groups of students. Recently, some of WWP's supporters have shared their artistic talents as a way to raise awareness and funds for wounded veterans. Musician Connor McDermott is one of those supporters – and he put his gifts to work for a music video tribute to America's service members.
"I made the video in the first place to honor my grandfather and his service in Vietnam," Connor said. "He actually appears four times in the video. But I also wanted it to be something that would honor the service of all the men and women in our armed forces both past and present."
The military tradition runs strong in Connor's family, with multiple generations having served in major world conflicts over the decades.
MILWAUKEE, Sept. 28, 2017 -- For years, Harley-Davidson® has partnered with and supported Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) through riding academy events, bike giveaways, and funds raised from sales of items in their Operation Personal Freedom clothing line. Recently, that support also extended to a special event at Harley-Davidson headquarters in Milwaukee, where a group of warriors toured the facility and learned about the American icon's history.
"Discovering the history of the motorcycle was fascinating, and the displays they have are incredible," said Craig Caldwell, a Navy veteran served by WWP. "It took me and my wife, Kim, back to a time when life was much simpler, compared to today's zero-to-100-in-six-seconds lifestyle. The museum had a lot of old black and white photos covering the history of how they got started and the old plant and where things used to be compared to now."
The tour had such a big impact on Craig and Kim that they decided to buy motorcycles right then and there. Although he's only been riding for a while, he's found great enjoyment with his motorcycle.
Wednesday, Adam and 38 other wounded veterans competed in one of the road bike races at Invictus Games 2017. Invictus Games bring wounded veterans from around the world to compete in sports. An Air Force veteran whose civilian career is in cycling, Adam finished third, just one second behind race winner Andrew White from the United Kingdom.
"It was a great race," Adam said. "Really great riders competed, and I'm proud to have taken part."