KENLY, N.C., Sept. 28, 2017 -- An accident during an Army deployment to Egypt caused Thomas Holcomb's traumatic brain injury – and the invisible wound led to multiple strokes and seizures that impact his life even today. Thomas became forgetful, impatient, and reclusive. Overwhelmed, the once-fit wounded warrior began gaining weight, and soon, depression took over his life.
"When I heard about Wounded Warrior Project's male mental health workshops, I was in a really bad place," Thomas said. "I hadn't reached out to anyone for help and found myself at struggling at 248 pounds."
Through the generous support of donors, Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) offers veterans specialized mental health programs and services – tailored to each warrior's specific needs and free of charge. One such program is its multi-day mental health workshops that are offered as all-male, all-female, or all-couples. These workshops provide safe, private environments for warriors to express themselves and share their experiences.
WASHINGTON, Sept. 27, 2017 -- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) are considered the signature wounds of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. It is estimated that 500,000 veterans live with the symptoms of PTSD; around 320,000 have a TBI.
These trauma-related issues can contribute significantly to suicidal thoughts or tendencies. It is estimated more than 20 veterans take their life each day. There are few proven methods to accurately diagnose and treat PTSD and TBI.
Today, Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) and Cohen Veterans Bioscience (CVB) announced a shared initiative to better diagnose and treat PTSD and TBI. The collaboration, known as Research Alliance for PTSD/TBI Innovation and Discovery Diagnostics (RAPID-Dx), is a public-private partnership led by CVB with WWP supporting biomarker research.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Ky., Sept. 27, 2017 -- Injured veterans recently attended a Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) mental health workshop in Nantahala, North Carolina. Throughout the experiential learning event, warriors committed to personal goals they'll focus on for six months after the workshop. While these gatherings are often the first time warriors leave their homes to connect with one another and their communities, warriors return home with a network of supportive bonds to help them on their roads to recovery.
"This workshop set a fire inside my heart to make a change and reclaim my life," said Kenneth Huff, Army veteran from Williamstown, Kentucky. "I have a new platoon of friends to help me over the humps life may throw at me, and after just three days back from the workshop, I am doing things I haven't done in more than seven years – like going back to church. Now, I am pushing myself to reach a place where I may be an inspiration to others."
JACKSONVILLE, Fla., Sept. 26, 2017 -- To better assist schools across the country with their fundraising efforts around Veterans Day, Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) is kicking off the "Honor Their Courage" campaign. In partnership with WWP, teachers, administrators, and parent-teacher association (PTA) leaders will receive tools and resources that help them honor warriors, educate students on the service of the nation's wounded warriors, and raise money for those WWP serves. These critical resources raised by generous donors ensure WWP can continue to connect wounded veterans with services that empower them to live their lives on their own terms.
"Our supporters come from all walks of life and all age groups," said WWP CEO Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Mike Linnington. "Wounded Warrior Project is blessed to have the support of students who are passionate about doing good for America's wounded veterans. This fall, as we approach Veterans Day, students will have the chance to show their creativity and passion as they raise critical funds on behalf of those who have bravely served our country."
MIAMI, Sept. 20, 2017 -- The flavors of Havana captured South Florida veterans during a recent Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) event. Local warriors and their family members put their taste buds to work during a food tour. While most tours offer a unique experience for attendees, events like these mean so much more to warriors.
The Little Havana Food and Walking tour took guests through the historic neighborhood to enjoy food, music, and area artists. Warriors also got to visit Maximo Gomez "Domino" Park, a well-known Miami landmark.
Debra Roberts, a Navy veteran who served in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, was one of the warriors who attended the event. While Debra said she learned a lot about local history and tasted some good food from Miami's Little Havana neighborhood, the highlight of the event for her was just getting out of the house.
"Wounded Warrior Project means so much to me. Otherwise, I wouldn't likely leave the house. I don't like to do things alone and need the motivation to get out."
NAPLES, Fla., Sept. 13, 2017 -- Wounded Warrior Project ® (WWP) veterans recently took a hands-on approach to preventing threats against wildlife in South Florida. Touching and seeing up-close snake skins and replicas of some of the area's most deadly reptiles set the tone for the boat ride. Veterans ventured on a water tour to see where these animals live. Coming together through experiences like these helps connect warriors, their families, and caregivers to one another and their communities; it is a critical step in the healing process.
"I enjoy Wounded Warrior Project activities because I can meet other veterans and their families and hear their stories," said wounded U.S. Army veteran Ricardo Gutierrez de Pineres. "My family, especially my daughter and I, had a great time."
WWP gatherings take place in settings that accommodate physical injuries and social anxieties to help reduce isolation. Isolation is one of the most significant struggles wounded warriors deal with after serving their country.
BEDFORD, Mass., Sept. 7, 2017 -- To celebrate the start of the 2017 NFL season Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP), with their partners the NFL and USAA®, hosted a military appreciation event for wounded veterans at Hanscom Air Force Base. Throughout the day, warriors and Airmen from the base enjoyed flag football, dinner, and special appearances by NFL Legend TONY RICHARDSON and New England Patriots cheerleaders. Events like this not only allow warriors to experience a unique event firsthand but also form relationships with local veterans like them.
"The NFL has supported and honored our military for years, and all of us at Wounded Warrior Project are extremely grateful for their continued support of our mission," said Gary Corless, WWP chief development officer. "Wounded Warrior Project connects warriors with one another, their families, and communities, and serves warriors through life-saving programs and services targeting mental and physical health, career and benefits counseling, and support for the most severely wounded. We are proud to offer that free of charge, and that's only possible because of the generosity of our donors, and partners like the NFL and USAA."
TULSA, Okla., Sept. 7, 2017 -- Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) relies on the support of donors, including individual supporters, corporate partners, and even groups of students. Some of those supporters even go on challenging adventures to raise awareness for WWP. Recently, Craig Clements and his two dogs began a cross-country journey on foot.
"My mother passed away 30 years ago from colon cancer," he explained. "Her father was a captain under General Patton and was injured severely in the Battle of the Bulge. But as many in that generation did, he returned home to make and rebuild America. Never once did I ever see him complain. He was my role model and was as close to a John Wayne figure as you could meet. I promised my mom that one day I would undertake something to honor my family's long history of war veterans from the Revolutionary War to current conflicts."
Craig said he always admired how WWP serves warriors, and he wanted to give back to them.
BERLIN, N.H., Sept. 6, 2017 -- Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) is able to provide its programs to the warriors it serves because of the support of donors, including individual supporters, corporate partners, and even groups of students. Raising awareness at the local level can make a big difference for WWP, something that Coach Corey Riendeau and his youth hockey team have started to put into practice.
"Our players recently began supporting Wounded Warrior Project," Corey said. "I've also discussed supporting Wounded Warrior Project with other coaches of the Nor'Easter Hockey organization, and it sounds like they want to help as well."
Corey showed the WWP flag to the players he coaches, who are all 14 years old or younger, as a way to inspire them, but also to teach them about how WWP serves wounded veterans. Corey himself is connected to WWP through family.
EAST SETAUKET, N.Y., Sept. 6, 2017 -- Raising awareness at the local level can make a big difference for Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP). That support allows WWP to provide its programs free of charge to the warriors it serves. And that support comes from individual supporters, corporate partners, and even groups of students. Recently, the entire 6th grade class of Arrowhead Elementary School showed its support for WWP.
"Our grade level teachers talked about doing an annual fundraiser, and we decided we wanted to help military personnel because of the sacrifices they have made for our country," said Dan Walsh, one of the 6th grade teachers. "As we researched, we were impressed with Wounded Warrior Project and their mission. We knew that was who we wanted to support."
Dan's father and father-in-law both served in the Navy, with his father-in-law serving during World War II. While they were never able to directly benefit from the programs and services that WWP offers, Dan saw a chance to show how it benefits others.