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A Look at the Wounded Warrior Project’s Goals for 2020

woundedwarriorprojectIn 2003, the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) began with an initiative to deliver backpacks to veterans recovering from combat-related injuries at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, DC. From those humble beginnings, the organization has grown to become a national leader in providing programs and services designed to help veterans and their families to thrive outside of the military. Following its successes in 2019, WWP has major plans as it moves into the next decade. Read on for a look at the organization’s goals for 2020 and beyond.

 

Adapting to Veterans’ Changing Needs

With an understanding that all veterans transitioning from the military have their own unique needs, challenges, and goals, WWP provides programs and services that cover areas ranging from physical and mental wellness to education, career guidance, and peer and family support. Other initiatives focus on helping veterans to obtain Veteran Affairs (VA) benefits and gain independence following a moderate-to-severe physical injury or neurological condition.

As part of its efforts to ensure that it is effectively meeting the needs of the individuals and families that it serves, WWP conducts an annual survey that examines key issues facing the military community. In late 2019, the organization released the results of its 10th Annual Warrior Survey, which it will use throughout 2020 to inform and adapt its programming.

An area of concern highlighted in the 2019 survey deals with the ongoing physical and mental trauma of service-related and combat exposure following three or more deployments. Throughout 2020 and beyond, WWP will work closely with the government and other veterans service organizations to raise awareness about this issue and ensure that those affected receive the assistance that they need.

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Continuing to Support Mental Health

Since its inception, WWP has focused on helping veterans to overcome post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions. In 2020, the organization will continue to offer services in this area, as more members of the military community reach out for help.

WWP’s mental-health initiatives include its Warrior Care Network, a program that provides intensive outpatient treatment for veterans and their family members at no cost to them. During the 2019 fiscal year, more than 2,100 people benefitted from the network, which is maintained by WWP and four US-based medical centers. Ensuring that this partnership continues to thrive will remain a priority for WWP throughout 2020.

The Wounded Warrior Project will also continue to offer its many other mental health programs, such as rehabilitative workshops and retreats. Another service in this area includes WWP Talk, a free mental health support line that provides nonclinical counseling and guidance for registered WWP members.

 

Prioritizing Physical Health and Support Systems

Along with its various mental health services, WWP emphasizes the importance of physical activity and support among veterans striving to improve their health. In 2020, WWP members across the United States will take part in numerous activities, including adaptive sports events, fitness challenges, and online wellness seminars.

Additionally, the Wounded Warrior Project will continue providing hands-on assistance through its coaching program, which is designed to help veterans lose weight, increase mobility, and improve their nutritional habits. Other programs and initiatives to watch for in 2020 include Soldier Ride, a cycling event for veterans of all ability levels that has helped thousands of WWP members to overcome physical, mental, and emotional challenges while building camaraderie with other service members.

 

Partnering to Help Warriors Improve Their Financial Well-Being

Regardless of whether they’re dealing with physical or mental health issues, many veterans face financial challenges when transitioning to civilian life. Fortunately, WWP offers financial wellness programs designed to help veterans navigate the VA benefits system, pursue fulfilling careers, and access the benefits that they deserve. In 2019, these services helped WWP members to secure nearly $220 million in collective salaries and benefits.

Going forward, the Wounded Warrior Project will continue to offer career-development assistance with support from local businesses, as well as national corporate partners. This includes Deloitte, which teamed up with WWP in 2019 to operate over 15 employment boot camps in communities across the United States.

In 2020, Deloitte and the Wounded Warrior Project will again partner to offer an additional 15 employment boot camps throughout the year. Over the span of two to three days, each training session will provide 20 to 30 veterans and their family members with instruction on interview skills, resume writing, business etiquette, and other areas related to career development.

 

Reaching Out for Community Support

As a nonprofit, WWP would not be able to provide any of its life-changing programs and services without the assistance of volunteers and donors. Throughout 2020, the organization will focus on expanding its support network as it works to improve and extend the reach of its offerings.

Those looking to help WWP attain its goals can do so by making a one-time financial contribution or by setting up a recurring donation. People can also become involved by hosting a fundraiser or participating in WWP events, such as the Carry Forward 5K. In 2020, the Wounded Warrior Project will host Carry Forward events in California, Tennessee, Texas, Pennsylvania, and Florida. More information is available at WoundedWarriorProject.org.

 

Disclaimer: This website contains general information about medical conditions and treatments. This information is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. No guarantee is given regarding the accuracy or validity of any statements or information provided on this website. Do not rely on this information as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or another professional health-care provider. You should seek immediate medical attention if you think you are suffering from a medical condition. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website. 

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A Spotlight on the Big Ways BGCA Serves Native Youth

boysandgirlsclubIn addition to serving youth in major cities nationwide, Boys and Girls Clubs of America (BBCA) maintains over 1,000 Clubs in rural areas. These include many communities on Native lands, which are home to American Indian, Alaska Native, American Samoan, and Hawaiian tribal youth. Along with the challenges that affect young people of all cultural backgrounds, those in Native communities often have unique needs that aren’t being addressed by local programs.

As part of a commitment to promote and expand youth development initiatives among Native kids and teens, BGCA established its Native Services arm in partnership with tribal leaders and other key stakeholders on tribal lands. Keep reading to learn more about BGCA Native Services and what it’s doing to improve the lives of Native youth.

 

Challenges Facing Native Communities

Across the United States, there are many self-governing Native American communities that are home to over 570 federally recognized tribes. Each of these groups has its own rich culture, heritage, language, and traditions. Unfortunately, many Native communities also face unique challenges that make it difficult for tribe members, including Native youth, to reach their full potential.

Although many young tribe members thrive and succeed in life, Native youth are among the most vulnerable populations in the country. In addition to experiencing high rates of poverty, a disproportionate number of Native youth face challenges related to physical and nutritional health, mental wellness, substance abuse, and education. A lack of local resources and the isolation of some Native communities can make these challenges even more difficult to overcome.

 

What BGCA Native Services Is Doing to Help

The mission of BGCA Native Services is to help Native youth reach their full potential while celebrating the particular strengths and cultural traditions of the country’s tribal communities. Since launching Native Services in 1992, BGCA has expanded its offerings to become the largest youth-serving organization on Native land. Today, more than 86,000 youth from over 100 tribes benefit from programming offered through nearly 200 Native Clubs nationwide.

Over the years, BGCA has built sustainable partnerships with tribal leaders and invested resources toward improving the capacity of professional staff and other leaders of Native Clubs. As with Club programs outside of Native communities, those implemented by BGCA Native Services focus on physical, social, emotional, and intellectual development. BGCA has also worked closely with local tribes and community leaders to develop programming specific to the needs and cultures of Native youth.

 

Native Services Club Programs

Native Services Club programs cover each of BGCA’s five core program areas: Character and Leadership Development; Health and Life Skills; Education and Career Development; the Arts; and Sports, Fitness and Recreation. Native Club youth take part in national BGCA programs such as All Stars, DIY STEM, My.Future, and Smart Moves.

Through the work of Native Services leaders, the curriculum of each of these programs has been adapted to be more reflective of Native American culture. BGCA also encourages all local Native Club leaders to create supplemental materials and activities to further reflect their own community’s unique culture and traditions. Native Services even created its Cultural Program Toolbox to make it easier for Clubs to build and implement culturally relevant services.

Along with adapting existing BGCA programming, Native Services has developed programs that are only implemented in Native Clubs. They include On the T.R.A.I.L (Together Raising Awareness for Indian Life) to Diabetes Prevention. This program aims to reduce the prevalence of Type 2 diabetes among Native communities through a combination of physical, nutritional, and educational activities.

 

Keeping the Momentum Going

More than 25 years after launching Native Services, BGCA continues to build momentum as the top youth agency on Native lands. As part of its Great Futures 2025 Strategy, which was developed in 2017, the organization has established four key priorities for its activities with Native youth.

Going forward, Boys and Girls Clubs will work to increase the quality of Native Club programs and leadership while advocating for Native youth development. The group will also focus on growing the number of Native Club members as it continues to expand and improve programming.

BGCA Native Services has received significant support in these efforts from corporate and nonprofit partners. This includes the Walmart Foundation, which donated $500,000 to help BGCA provide Native kids and teens with education on healthy lifestyles and nutrition. The funding is supporting education and Club improvements at over two dozen Clubs on Native lands.

BGCA also relies on the support of individual donors to continue its Native Services programming. Supporters can make a tax-deductible donation to the Native American Sustainability Fund to ensure that Native Clubs continue to thrive. Each dollar donated to the fund is used to increase Club sustainability, foster organizational growth, and provide training resources and technical support for Native Club leaders.

More information about BGCA Native Services and ways you can help is available at www.naclubs.org.

 

Disclaimer: This website contains general information about medical conditions and treatments. This information is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. No guarantee is given regarding the accuracy or validity of any statements or information provided on this website. Do not rely on this information as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or another professional healthcare provider. You should seek immediate medical attention if you think you are suffering from a medical condition. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website. 

Here Are the Results of the 10th Annual Warrior Survey

woundedwarriorprojectIn its efforts to identify the challenges facing the nation’s veterans and their families, Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) conducts an annual survey examining the physical, emotional, mental, economic, and social needs of post-9/11 service members. It is the largest survey of its kind.

The WWP Annual Warrior Survey helps the organization allocate resources toward programs and initiatives with the highest potential impact. The survey also provides important data that policymakers and government agencies can use to improve the quality of veterans’ programs and services.

WWP recently released the results of its 10th Annual Warrior Survey. It collected information on numerous topics concerning veterans, including demographic shifts, deployment trends, employment and financial stability, and homelessness.

Survey data also provided health information related to service-connected physical injuries, PTSD and traumatic brain injury, physical health and obesity, and substance abuse. Keep reading for a closer look at the findings from WWP’s 2019 Warrior Survey.

 

Respondent Demographics

For its 10th Annual Warrior Survey, WWP reached out to just under 110,000 members and received 35,908 completed surveys. Of those who responded, 83 percent are male with an average age of 42. The majority of respondents (65.9 percent) were married at the time of the survey. Just over 37 percent of respondents possessed a bachelor’s degree or higher.

In terms of race and ethnicity, the top three represented among respondents are Caucasian (66.1 percent), Hispanic (19.6 percent), and Black or African American (16 percent). The remaining respondents comprise American Indian or Alaskan Native (5.3 percent), those who identified as other race/ethnicity (3.8 percent), Asian (3.7 percent), and Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander (1.6 percent).

Respondents hailed from several areas of the country, but most (54 percent) were living in the South at the time of the survey. Nearly one-quarter (23.8 percent) live in the West while 12.6 percent live in the Midwest and 9.6 percent live in the Northeast.

 

Service-Connected Injuries and Health Issues

boys and girls clubAs mentioned, the main goal of the Annual Warrior Survey is to identify challenges facing the nation’s veterans in order to help WWP and other organizations tailor their assistance programs and services accordingly. The top challenges typically include service-related physical injuries and associated mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Among the respondents to the 10th Annual Warrior Survey, 91 percent experienced three or more injuries as a result of their military service. At the top of the list of most commonly reported issues in the survey were sleep problems, PTSD, and anxiety. These issues were reported by 87.5 percent, 82.8 percent, and 80.7 percent of respondents, respectively. Back, neck, or shoulder problems and depression were also among the most common self-reported health issues.

A new health question in the 2019 Warrior Survey asked respondents about their exposure to toxic materials such as chemical agents and burn pit fumes. Over two-thirds (70.4 percent) of respondents reported that they had definitely been exposed to such environmental hazards during their service. However, less than 10 percent reported receiving treatment for their exposure.

 

Social Support, Health Care Coverage, and Access to Care

Fortunately, the level of social support among veterans who responded to the survey appears to be quite high. Nearly 80 percent of respondents agreed that there are people they could turn to for help if they needed it. Over 72 percent agreed that there are people around them who enjoy the same social activities they do.

In addition to benefitting from social support, most (71 percent) respondents reported that they receive at least some health care coverage through Veterans Affairs (VA). This represents a 12 percent increase over the last five years. Nearly all those who receive VA coverage choose to use the agency’s services. Veterans cited prescription benefits and access to care for service-related disabilities among the top reasons for selecting the VA over other providers.

An important takeaway from the 10th Annual Warrior Survey is related to access to care for mental health issues. This has been an ongoing issue that continues to affect nearly one-third of veterans in need of care. Fortunately, however, the 2019 survey shows slight improvements in this area over the previous year.

 

Employment and Financial Well-Being

Numerous barriers make it difficult for some veterans to obtain employment. Fortunately, however, the majority of Warrior Survey respondents (62.6 percent) are employed, and 48.8 percent of them are employed full-time.

The percentage of respondents employed part-time is 7.3 percent, and 6.6 percent are self-employed. For those respondents who are not in the labor force, some of the most commonly cited barriers to employment include mental health issues (35 percent), difficulty being around others (28.3 percent), and physical issues (19.6 percent).

In the areas of income and finances, findings from the 2019 Annual Warrior Survey show that respondents are feeling better about their financial situations than they were in 2018. Nearly 30 percent of warriors surveyed said that their finances have improved compared to the previous year. This represents a 2 percent improvement from 2018 and a nearly 8 percent improvement from the first Warrior Survey in 2010.

One reason for the improvement in finances could be related to the growth in the number of veterans who possess a bachelor’s degree or higher. Over 37 percent of respondents hold at least a bachelor’s degree. Additionally, approximately one in five of those surveyed reported that they are currently pursuing post-secondary credentials.

More information about the findings from the 10th Annual Warrior Survey is available at www.woundedwarrior.org.

 

Disclaimer: This website contains general information about medical conditions and treatments. This information is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. No guarantee is given regarding the accuracy or validity of any statements or information provided on this website. Do not rely on this information as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or another professional healthcare provider. You should seek immediate medical attention if you think you are suffering from a medical condition. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.

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Here Are the Top Character and Leadership Programs at BGCA

boysandgirlsclubOver the course of its 150-plus-year history, Boys and Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) has built a full suite of programs designed to help kids and teens excel in school and lead healthy, productive lives. With more than 4,600 Clubs in US cities and military installations worldwide, the organization offers programs in various areas, including education, health and wellness, sports, and the arts. A core focus of BGCA’s work is on instilling character and leadership skills among its 4.7 million members.

BGCA’s efforts to create 21st-century leaders have been very successful. In fact, 75 percent of its regular members report having volunteered in their communities at least once in the previous year. Meanwhile, 41 percent of Club youth report volunteering at least once per month. In addition to volunteering their time, BGCA members demonstrate good character through their willingness to stand up for what is right while ensuring that those around them feel important.

The ultimate goal of BGCA’s character and leadership programs is to help youth become caring and responsible citizens with the decision-making and planning skills needed to contribute positively to their local Club and greater communities. Read on to learn more about these impactful programs and initiatives.

 

Keystone Club

Much of BGCA’s character and leadership work is carried out in its Keystone Clubs. Designed for youth ages 14 to 18, Keystone Club is a national program that focuses on service and leadership and gives participants the opportunity to volunteer in

their communities. Under the guidance of an adult supervisor, youth engage in activities aimed at academic success and career preparation.

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Along with after-school activities, Keystone Club members participate in the BGCA-hosted National Keystone Conference. This annual multi-day event brings teen leaders and adult advisors from across the country together for activities focused on various social issues. More than 1,500 people took part in the 2019 Keystone Conference, which covered a range of topics, including school violence, mental health, and gender identity.

The National Keystone Conference and Keystone Clubs across the country are supported in large part through the generosity of Aaron’s, Inc. In 2018, the lease-purchase retailer’s giving division, Aaron’s Foundation, renewed its partnership with Keystone Clubs and BGCA via a three-year, $5-million commitment. The money will be used to fund the Keystone Conference and provide renovations of Clubs nationwide.

 

Million Members, Million Hours of Service

As its name suggests, Million Members, Million Hours of Service (MMMHS) is a BGCA initiative that aims to engage 1 million Club members in 1 million hours of community service each year. In addition to helping Club youth become more productive, service-oriented citizens, MMMHS benefits participants by promoting positive relationships and assisting them in avoiding risky behavior. Studies have also shown that youth who engage in service perform better academically and are less likely to drop out of high school.

The list of BGCA partners that have supported MMMHS includes the Citi Foundation, a group that backed past signature service events such as United We Serve: Summer of Service. BGCA continues to host service activities as part of MMMHS, but Club members are encouraged to host their own service projects throughout the year.

 

Torch Club

Referred to as “the club within the Club,” Torch Club was created to help adolescents ages 11 to 13 develop leadership skills as well as good character and integrity. Boys and girls who participate in local Torch Club programs elect leadership officers and work together to organize and implement various activities. These activities focus on service to Club and community, health and fitness, social recreation, and education. Torch Club members across the country are also invited to engage in a service-learning experience as part of the annual National Torch Club Project.

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Corporate supporters of Torch Club include Old Navy, which raises money for the national program via its annual back-to-school donation drive. In addition, Old Navy employees volunteer their time to Torch Clubs nationwide. Samsung Electronics America is also a Torch Club supporter. Each year, the company sponsors the Climate Superstars Challenge, which has eligible Torch Clubs competing to win Samsung products.

 

Youth of the Year

Since its beginnings as a grassroots initiative in the late 1940s, Youth of the Year has grown to become BGCA’s signature leadership development program. To become the Youth of the Year, a Club teen must advance through local, state, and regional events. Winners are chosen because they exemplify the BGCA mission and showcase the organization’s ability to help youth reach their full potential as responsible, productive, and caring citizens.

In addition to selecting one exceptional Club member as the National Youth of the Year, Boys and Girls Clubs nationwide involve more members in the program as part of its Youth of the Month component. Meanwhile, younger Club members ages 11 to 13 are recognized through the Junior Youth of the Year program.

In 2019, six outstanding young men and women were chosen as finalists for National Youth of the Year. The award was ultimately given to Sabrina M., a Barnard College freshman who has been a Boys and Girls Clubs of San Francisco member for over 12 years. She was honored during a special gala and celebration dinner in Washington, DC, and will now serve as the national teen spokesperson for Club youth.

 

Disclaimer: This website contains general information about medical conditions and treatments. This information is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. No guarantee is given regarding the accuracy or validity of any statements or information provided on this website. Do not rely on this information as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or another professional healthcare provider. You should seek immediate medical attention if you think you are suffering from a medical condition. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.