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Taniki Richard

Marines ● Sergeant ● Virginia

While on a helicopter to deliver equipment in Iraq, Taniki’s team came under fire. Everyone returned safely, but her life soon spiraled out of control.

Taniki Richard enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 2001 and immediately loved it. Not only did she cherish the family-like relationships she created with her fellow Marines, but she also enjoyed all her duty stations — even, to some extent, Iraq. “Everything made sense in Iraq,” says Taniki. “You had a routine, you had your friends, and you knew what you had to do every day.”

Though she usually had a routine, things didn’t always go according to plan. One night, while riding in a helicopter to deliver classified equipment to a base in central Iraq, her team came under fire. They completed the mission, and everyone returned safely, but her life soon spiraled out of control. She stopped sleeping. On the rare occasions she could fall asleep, terrifying nightmares woke her.

Wounded warrior Taniki Richard sitting at home, talking on the phone while holding a WWP Mental Health and Wellness brochure.

Wounded warrior Taniki Richard having fun playing soccer with her family.

Wounded warrior Taniki Richard sitting in her home office smiling.

When her deployment ended, she returned to her base in North Carolina — and things got even worse. The stress of combat had brought out memories of an unreported military sexual assault Taniki had endured a few years earlier. Despite being a suicide awareness facilitator and a sexual assault advocate on the base, Taniki began considering suicide herself. One day, Taniki purposefully crashed her car into a pole outside the base gates. “I didn’t want to die,” admits Taniki. “I really wanted to live. That’s why I was so sad. I wanted help, but no one seemed to want to help me. I made a decision after I crashed to get help — and I think that’s the first time I was ever a true leader.”

“Wounded Warrior Project gave me a foundation to build upon as I attempted to put the pieces of my life back together.”

Despite getting some help to learn to live with post-traumatic stress disorder, Taniki still felt alone and isolated — until she attended a Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) event that changed her life. When she arrived, a WWP staff member looked at her in a way that showed love and acceptance. “I cried because I knew that love,” says Taniki. “You didn’t have to say much; you just knew. You could express yourself, and people just understood.”

Wounded warrior Taniki Richard and her family having a picnic outside.

An experience at a WWP mental health workshop called Project Odyssey® cemented Taniki’s recovery. When she explained to the group that she missed being a Marine Corps sergeant, others shared similar feelings. “No one judged me,” says Taniki. “They validated me. Their stories included similar instances of pain and anger, and it helped me realize I wasn’t crazy. It was empowering, and it was a real turning point for me.”

Since then, Taniki has been empowered to start her own business and lives a life full of love with her husband and two sons. Though she stays busy, she always finds time for her passion — inspiring people to live better lives. “I want to make sure my fellow veterans have everything they need to play out the next part of their lives and not just live, but live well,” says Taniki. “If I can be part of an organization that helps people heal and find peace, then the end of my service is not the end. I’m just serving in a new way now.”

Meet More Warriors

Wounded warrior Tim Aponte smiling.

Tim Aponte

For 10 years, Tim loved serving in the Army. Days before he was due to return home, an explosion left him with a traumatic brain injury and a broken back.

Wounded warrior Ray Andalio standing in a park, smiling and wearing sunglasses and a WWP hat.

Ray Andalio

Born in the Philippines, Ray loved the country that sheltered his family. While in the Navy, he was sent to Iraq, where his training was put to the ultimate test.

Wounded warrior Aaron Cornelius playing the guitar around a fire during an outdoor event.

Aaron Cornelius

Aaron saw a lot of combat while leading soldiers through three deployments in Iraq. But it wasn’t until his last that, as Aaron says, “all hell broke loose.”


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