CONCORD, N.C., June 14, 2017 -- NASCAR gets the blood pumping for Robert Gers, an Army veteran served by Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP). The sights, sounds, and smells are part and parcel of a beloved sport – and a pastime that gives Robert and his wife, Crystal, something to bond over.
"Watching the races gives me and my wife a chance to re-connect," Robert said. "We both enjoy watching together; throwing popcorn and peanuts at the TV, or each other; or heckling one of our least favorite drivers."
Recently, they experienced the rumble of the engines and cheers of the crowd in person. DEWALT® hosted an event in partnership with WWP, allowing Robert and Crystal to attend the All-Star Race and meet the DEWALT Racing team, including driver Matt Kenseth.
BOSTON, June 14, 2017 -- The numbers are staggering: an estimated 500,000 of today's generation of wounded veterans live with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and as many as 350,000 have traumatic brain injuries (TBI). The need is so great that a tasked federal health system for veterans cannot do it alone. It is why the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) invited Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP), other veterans service organizations, private hospitals, innovators, and health providers to take part in VA Brain Trust 2017.
The two-day event in Boston focused on the challenges of invisible wounds of war, brought ideas to the forefront, and highlighted collaboration between VA and partners.
"Wounded Warrior Project was honored to be invited to take part in VA Brain Trust 2017," said WWP CEO Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Mike Linnington. "We can best help warriors across the country by working together with government, nonprofit, and private sector organizations. Veterans answered the call to serve; now we have to respond to their call for help."
JACKSONVILLE, Fla., June 13, 2017 -- The supporters of Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) come from all walks of life and are of all ages, and their generosity allows WWP to provide free, life-changing programs and services to injured veterans, their caregivers, and family members. Recently, Ashley Walls shared her musical talents as a way to raise awareness and support for the warriors WWP serves. She wrote and released a song called "Don't Go," which she says was inspired by remembering those who have fought – and died – overseas.
"I wanted to show through song how much our soldiers and their families sacrifice for our freedom," Ashley said. "And I wanted to make sure those who serve our country are never forgotten and know how much they're appreciated."
Ashley, like many of WWP's young supporters, has friends and family in the military. Her father, grandfathers, and all her uncles served in various branches of service, along with some of her friends from high school who went on to join the Army and Air Force.
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.