As Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) celebrates 15 years of service, the veteran-focused organization continues to provide a variety of programs designed to enhance the lives of former and current military members and their families. In addition to improving veterans’ physical and mental well-being, WWP helps them to gain independence through social activities and career-development initiatives. The organization also oversees a variety of programs to serve the spouses, caregivers, and other loved ones who support the nation’s military members. Here is a look at recent WWP news from across the country.
Veterans and Supporters Participate in Inaugural Carry Forward Event
In San Diego, veterans and military supporters took part in the first-ever Carry Forward, a unique 5K fitness challenge designed to raise money for WWP programs and activities. During the event, which occurred on October 6, 2018, at Liberty Station NTC Park, participants pushed their physical limits by carrying a flag, weights, or another person while running or walking a 5K course. All participants completed the challenge as individuals or squads of three or more runners.
A total of 706 people and 140 squads participated in the 2018 Carry Forward San Diego. Their support, along with that of virtual participants, raised over $45,000, which was just shy of the event’s $50,000 goal. WWP is also holding 2018 Carry Forward challenges in Nashville and Jacksonville, Florida.
Soldier Ride Crosses the United States
Along with Carry Forward, WWP hosts several other fund-raisers and awareness events, including Soldier Ride Across America. Launched in 2003, the Soldier Ride program engages veterans and caregivers in multi-day adaptive-cycling events. The main Soldier Ride events occur in mid-summer, but teams of cyclists recently completed a special Soldier Ride Across America in commemoration of the program’s 15th anniversary.
During the cross-country trek, three teams biked nearly 3,300 miles in just under one month. The first team of cyclists set out from One World Trade Center on September 8, 2018, and traveled to Louisville, Kentucky, where a second team took over and began traveling to Lubbock, Texas. From there, the final team started the last leg, which finished in San Diego on October 7. Each of the 36 men and women who took part in the journey rode approximately 1,000 miles while helping to raise money and awareness for various WWP initiatives, including its job training, adaptive sports, and combat recovery programs.
WWP Leads Suicide Prevention Efforts
Since its inception in 2003, WWP has been committed to assisting men and women with mental health issues associated with their military service. As part of these efforts, leaders from the organization recently testified before the House Committee on Veteran Affairs to discuss approaches to meeting the unique challenges that some wounded veterans face after returning from combat.
During the testimony, Mike Richardson, WWP’s vice president of independence services and mental health, discussed how a multi-pronged approach to prevention and treatment can effectively reduce post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. He also described how WWP programs such as Warrior Care Network and Project Odyssey have been successful in assisting wounded veterans. In addition to advising Congress on suicide best practices, WWP recently launched its #ShineTheLight campaign to raise awareness of suicide among veterans.
Golfers Raise Money for Warrior Care Network
Each year, the Blue Angels Foundation teams up with WWP to host the Konica Minolta Golf & Tennis Classic with the goal of helping to improve mental health care for wounded veterans. Over the weekend of October 4-7, participants in the 2018 event hit the links at Del Mar Country Club and The Park Hyatt Aviara Resort Golf Course in Carlsbad, California. A tennis tournament was also held during the weekend at the Aviara Resort’s tennis facility.
In addition to enjoying golf, tennis, and fun activities, Konica Minolta Golf & Tennis Classic participants helped to support WWP’s Warrior Care Network. The Network is a collaboration between WWP and four academic medical center partners: Emory Healthcare in Atlanta, Massachusetts General in Boston, UCLA Health in Los Angeles, and Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. Since it launched in 2016, the Warrior Care Network has delivered over 92,000 hours of mental health therapy to veterans across the country.
WWP Elects New Leadership to Board of Directors
In a September 2018 press release, WWP announced that its volunteer board of directors had elected Dr. Jonathan Woodson and Kathleen Widmer to serve as its new board chair and vice chair, respectively. Both leaders are experienced board members and have a military background. Dr. Woodson is a brigadier general in the US Army Reserves, and Ms. Widmer is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point who served for five years in the US Army.
In addition to electing a new chair and vice chair, WWP welcomed two new board members: Lisa Disbrow and Michael Hall. Two other board members, Anthony Odierno and Roger Campbell, departed because they had reached their term limits. WWP’s nine volunteer board members work throughout the year to assist the organization in meeting the various needs of wounded warriors.
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