October 21st, 2016
Honor & Empowerment: The Wounded Warrior Project
Imagine reliving the worst, and scariest day of your life over and over again inside your mind. Not only is the scene playing out before your eyes, but you can hear the sounds and smell the same smells as when the trauma first occurred. This is a constant battle that soldiers returning home from war have to face. That is where the Wounded Warrior Project (W.W.P) comes in. The Wounded Warrior Projects goal is to help veterans returning home from war heal, and become better adjusted to normal life again. Created in Roanoke Virginia, in 2003, the Wounded Warrior Project was founded by several veterans that wanted to help other vets by making their return home as easy as possible. These veterans understood how hard the average soldiers return home is, and the many struggles that they face on a daily basis. They wanted to create a safe place where soldiers could go for help, and so began what is now the amazing organization known as the Wounded Warrior Project. Not only do they help the physical wounds heal, but they also help with the emotional side of it. Oftentimes the physical wounds heal, while the emotional scars may last years or even decades. Wounded Warriors Project aims to heal both sets of wounds entirely.
The first major goal of the Wounded Warriors Project is to offer help to soldiers returning back to their normal, civilian life. Imagine how hard it would be coming home. These soldiers have spent the last several months having to watch their back everywhere they went. They have also had to hear terrible sounds all throughout the day and night. The scenes they witnessed, and participated in, haunt not just their dreams, but also their every thought. Now think about packing up and coming home. That would be a hard transition for any soldier to have to face alone. Luckily, W.W.P is there to offer help and support.
They also assist with another important, and often times over looked aspect of soldiers returning home, their families waiting for them. When soldiers come back from war with physical, or emotional wounds that can put a lot of new and unfamiliar stress on their families. Wounded Warrior Project offers counseling services and events for families to become a unit again. Many of the families have also had to deal with being a single parent. When soldiers with kids and families get deployed they leave behind their significant other to play both roles in child rearing. Often times, spouses are struggling on the inside with their significant other being gone, but on the outside they have to be strong for their children and others. All of these different factors lead to the families of soldiers and veterans needing support too. The Wounded Warrior Project does just that.
A key way to help soldiers return to a normal life is to help every soldier find a job after getting out of the military. Not only do they help returning soldiers fill out resumes, but they also offer job training, and interview prep help (woundedwarriorsproject.org). W.W.P partners with local organizations to connect soldiers with employers who are hiring, and help place them in fields they will enjoy. Connecting soldiers to job prospects is so important. A job provides not only financial support, but also stability in life, and opportunities to connect to other people and form lasting friendships. A job can provide a sense of worth and value in what may be a struggling vets life.
Returning home for many soldiers is often harder than the war itself. They struggle with being able to function in the normal world again. This may be partly because they feel like they are all alone when they return home. That is why it is so important for veterans to have support systems when they return. W.W.P works to connect veterans with either other returning soldiers, or retired vets to create a network of support for each other. A lot of people don’t realize that it is the duty, and responsibility of every American to help soldiers returning home. They have sacrificed in countless ways to protect our freedoms; it is only right we return the favor. Edward Tick, author of Warrior’s Return: Restoring the Soul After War wrote, “This is a major problem in society today, non-veterans are not taught what their responsibility’s is toward veterans who go off to fight their society’s battles” (Tick 121).
The second major goal of Wounded Warriors Project is to help returning soldiers deal with their emotional scars as a result of war. According to the woundedwarriorsproject.org, as of August 1st of this year about 400,000 soldiers who have come home are currently struggling with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. This is a problem that a lot of soldiers face, probably more than one realizes due to the fact that many vets do not seek treatment, or help of any kind which frequently creates several other issues in doing so.
PTSD stands for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. To be diagnosed with PTSD someone must first be in an “emotionally overwhelming traumatic event” (McDermott 10). There are several different symptoms of this disorder. The most common are night terrors, flashbacks, and becoming over-whelmed in a public setting. Not every person that has Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder suffers from severe night terrors or panic attacks in public. Most soldiers tend to see being diagnosed with PTSD, as being weak. They may be afraid to get help for fear of how other people will see or judge them. An alumni of the Wounded Warrior Project stated in his testimonial on their website that “I lied about my emotions, experiences, and symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder when I separated from the military so I could get out without mental health issues on my records. Trying to function as those symptoms only worsened was a nightmare” (woundedwarriorsproject.org). Another explanation for the lack of returning soldiers who seek treatment for PTSD, or any mental illness, may have to do with the stigma that society has placed on people that struggle with PTSD and mental illness. A stigma also surrounds the treatment therapy PTSD would require to help, or see any improvement. In many cases, people think that soldiers who struggle with PTSD may become violent, or are easily irritable. However, the reality of the situation is that no matter how violent, or big of a struggle soldiers have when they return home, they all need our help.
The Wounded Warrior Project also aims to help with the physical side of the wounds soldiers receive. According to the woundedwarriorsproject.org, over 50,000 soldiers returning home have some type of physical wound. If the injuries are severe enough, it may require them to stay in hospitals or receive physical therapy. The Wounded Warrior Project helps with all of that process including financial support and counseling. They support the soldiers, and their families, in their journey towards physical recovery.
Wounded Warrior project is an organization that has helped thousands of soldiers and vets since they were established. According to woundedwarriorproject.org, they have given out over nineteen thousand backpacks, and almost forty-five thousand transitional care packs to soldiers. They have also helped hundreds of military families. The W.W.P is constantly sponsoring activities and events to help aid vets in their recovery and adjustment to normal life. A great example of this is when they sponsored the 2007 disabled warrior’s sports project. It was a yearlong event that included many different sports activities for the soldiers to participate in. Kirk Bauer, Executive Director of Disabled Sports USA, said “Participating in sport is one very effective way to show them they can still lead an active and productive life” (pg.11). This is a great way that soldiers can come together, and help each other begin to lead a normal life. It also introduces them to vets who are in the same situations they are in. It is helpful to connect with people who can relate to each other and have had similar experiences.
The Wounded Warrior Project does some amazing things for soldiers and their families, but they cannot do it alone. That is where raising money through events and corporate sponsors comes in. W.W.P has many corporate sponsors, but one of the biggest is Under Armor. They sell clothing and other things with the organizations logo on it, and a portion of the proceeds go back to the Wounded Warrior Project. A few other well-known supporters of W.W.P are Amazon Smile, Survival Straps, Flag Outpost, Nissan, and Harley Davidson. They help in numerous ways including promotion, and charitable giving (woundedwarriorsproject.org).
Various people have very strong opinions about this organization. If one were to go out into public, and ask several people about this organization, I am sure one would hear many different opinions. Some people will be big supporters of the Wounded Warrior Project and think what they are doing with the soldiers is great. On the other hand, some people will disagree and say that this organization is a fraud, and does not use the money they raise to help soldiers.
Before I started doing research on this organization I did not realize the amount of people, and websites claiming that the Wounded Warrior Project was a fraud. As I began to do more research I typed in the organizations name, and many websites popped up bashing the Wounded Warrior Project. I read through a few of the articles, and I was saddened that people would actually think this organization was not using their money correctly. The thing about people writing articles bashing the Wounded Warrior Project is one does not know whether to believe what they are writing or not. They may have some kind of personal past with the organization, or a person working there, and just want to do harm to the W.W. P’s reputation. The only real way to find out the truth is go to the founder or CEO of the organization and ask, even then though you might not get an honest answer. After that it is up to each individual person to decide whether they will continue to support or decide not to. However, whether what they claim is true or not, I do not know, but I still think the Wounded Warrior Project is an amazing organization and should be supported. There will always be people of both opinions. One cannot please everyone, even where helping soldiers returning from war is concerned. In the end, I think it does not matter what organization it is there will always be people that do not support the group.
After reading all of the heartfelt stories of soldiers on the Wounded Warrior Project’s website, it truly inspired me. To see how hard many veterans struggled after returning home was very eye opening. That is one of the many reasons I support the Wounded Warrior Project. I am not in the military, but I have a very close friend that I grew up with whose husband is in the Air Force. I have personally witnessed the trauma and hardships that military families go through when loved ones are away, and when they return home, not always the same way they left. I one hundred percent agree that it is our responsibility as Americans to fully support anyone that is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms. Supporting this organization does not mean that you just have to send them money. You can support them in many other ways such as buying clothing with their logo on it, or even just by getting the word out about all the wonderful things the Wounded Warrior Project does to help returning soldiers and their families. Out of every organization I could have chosen, I felt the most drawn to W.W.P and their cause. Helping wounded and troubled soldiers is a huge passion in my life, and the Wounded Warrior Project is a great organization that does just that.
Chalmers, Greg. “2007 Wounded Warriors Disabled Sports Project” Palaestra 23.2 (2007): 11-12. Ebsco. Web.
McDermott, Walter F. Understanding Combat Related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland &Company, 2012. Book.
Philpott, Tom. “Military Update: Wounded Warrior Project.” Military Advantage.military.com. 12 March 2015. Web. 22 October 2016.
Tick, Edward. Warrior's Return: Restoring The Soul After War. Sounds True, 2014. Book.
Wounded Warrior Project. Wounded Warrior Project, October 2014. Web. 22 October 2016.