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Introducing Wounded Warrior’s Dedicated Board of Directors

wounded warrior projectAlongside an executive leadership team headed by CEO Mike Linnington, Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) operates under the guidance of a 12-member board of directors that provides governance and oversight for the group’s various programs and activities.

Drawing on their diverse backgrounds in military, government, nonprofit, business, and medicine, the board members work together to ensure that WWP is meeting the needs of veterans while gaining the resources required to continue its programs well into the future.

In January 2020, Wounded Warrior strengthened its board by adding three new members with both military and business leadership experience. Keep reading for a brief introduction to the new members and the rest of the WWP board of directors.

 

Kathy Hildreth

A former test pilot and aviation maintenance officer in the US Army, Kathy Hildreth served in the military for over five years before going on to launch a career in the defense industry. Her company, M1 Support Services, carries out complex government support contracts and is dedicated to providing jobs for military veterans. Along with Bill Selman and Ken Hunzeker, Hildreth is among the newest members of the WWP board.

 

Lt. Col. (Ret.) Bill Selman

West Point graduate Bill Selman served as an active-duty Army officer for five years and continued his military service in the Army Reserve, eventually retiring as a lieutenant colonel. As a civilian, he has held various leadership positions in finance, sales, engineering, and insurance while supporting various nonprofit groups.

 

Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Ken Hunzeker

Also a West Point graduate, Ken Hunzeker commanded various Army forces throughout a military career spanning 35 years. After retiring from the military in 2010, he worked for several years in government relations. Hunzeker’s recent accolades include his selection as a 2020 Distinguished Graduate of the US Military Academy.

 

Lisa Disbrow

Lisa Disbrow joined the US Air Force in 1985. Her military career, which spanned over three decades, included work in signals/electronic intelligence and deployments during Operations Desert Storm and Southern Watch. Disbrow’s activities since retiring from the Air Force Reserve in 2008 include serving as the 25th Under Secretary of the US Air Force.

 

Command Sgt. Maj. (Ret.) Michael T. Hall

Like many other members of the WWP board of directors, Michael T. Hall has spent his entire adult life in service to his country. As an Army officer, he completed multiple deployments and earned several decorations, including the Bronze Star Medal and Distinguished Service Medal. Hall retired after 34 years of military service and has since worked as a defense consultant, executive coach, and dedicated supporter of several veterans organizations.

 

Juan Garcia

Currently a managing director at Deloitte in Washington, DC, Juan Garcia previously served for six years as the Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Manpower and Reserve Affairs). He was appointed to the leadership position after serving active and reserve Navy duty for over 15 years. Alongside his military service, Garcia, who holds a juris doctor and a master in public policy from Harvard, has worked as an attorney and member of the Texas House of Representatives.

 

Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Rick Tryon

Lieutenant General Rick Tryon retired from the Marine Corps in 2014 after nearly four and a half decades of military service. His military career began in 1970 and included leadership assignments in Japan, Iraq, Turkey, and several European countries. In addition to serving on the WWP board of directors and WWP advisory council, Tryon serves as a senior fellow in international leadership at the University of North Florida.

 

Cari DeSantis

With a professional background focused on government and nonprofit organizational management, Cari DeSantis brings unique expertise to the WWP board of directors, which she joined in 2017. Much of her work has focused on the health and human services sector. Alongside her activities with WWP, DeSantis currently leads a Maryland-based nonprofit that connects people of differing abilities with employment opportunities.

Named one of the Top 100 Women for 2017 by the Daily Record in Maryland, DeSantis is an award-winning author of three books.

 

Command Sgt. Maj. (Ret.) Alonzo Smith

Alonzo Smith is an experienced combat veteran with firsthand knowledge of the difficulties faced by the nation’s wounded warriors. During a deployment to Afghanistan, Smith sustained severe wounds that led to several surgeries, prolonged hospital stays, and a long recovery process aided by physical rehabilitation. Following his 33-year military career, he has been dedicated to helping his fellow veterans as a WWP alumnus and board member.

 

Kathleen Widmer

Another West Point graduate, Kathleen Widmer has balanced her professional pursuits in business management and marketing leadership with her activities as an advocate for military veterans. Her work in this area includes serving as co-chair of the Veterans Leadership Council at Johnson & Johnson. Since 2018, Widmer has helped lead the WWP board of directors as vice chair.

 

Dr. Jonathan Woodson

Board certified in internal medicine, general surgery, vascular surgery, and critical care surgery, Dr. Jonathan Woodson joined the WWP board of directors in 2016 and now serves as board chair. Outside of his work at WWP, Dr. Woodson has held positions in the Military Health System, including Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs. He currently serves as a professor of surgery, management, health law, and policy at Boston University Medical Center in addition to serving as Army Reserve Medical Command commanding general.

 

Lt. Col. (Ret.) Justin Constantine

Like Sergeant Major Alonzo Smith, Lieutenant Colonel Justin Constantine has also overcome wounds received in military combat. After miraculously recovering from a sniper gunshot to the head, he joined WWP and launched a civilian career that has included work as an inspirational speaker and writer on military and leadership issues. For his courage and work with military veterans, WWP awarded him the George C. Lang Award and appointed him to board of directors in 2011. Today, he stands out as the group’s longest-serving member.

 

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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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. 

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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This Is What You Need to Know about the Purple Heart Medal

In 1957, the Purple Heart Foundation was established as the fundraising arm of the Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH), a congressionally chartered veterans organization comprising a membership body of Purple Heart recipients. Today, the Foundation and MOPH continue to oversee and support a range of programs that help veterans recover and prosper following military service.

To gain a better appreciation of these two organizations and the decorated military members they serve, take a look at these 10 facts about the Purple Heart medal:

 

  1. The Purple Heart is the oldest military honor in the US.

While it took many more years to evolve into its current look and name, the Purple Heart has a history dating back to the 1780s. Its predecessor, the Badge of Military Merit, was established by President George Washington in 1782. After the medal fell into disuse, General Douglas MacArthur led efforts to revive the honor in the early 1930s, creating the modern-day Purple Heart.

revolutionary war

 

  1. The medal was first awarded during the Revolutionary War.

Elijah Churchill and William Brown of the Continental Army are most commonly credited as being the first Purple Heart recipients. Of course, the two soldiers received the honor under its original title, the Badge of Military Merit. The first modern-day Purple Heart was awarded to the man who helped create it, General Douglas MacArthur.

 

  1. It was the first military award for lower-ranking soldiers.

Prior to the establishment of the Purple Heart’s predecessor, military honors were typically reserved for officers credited with significant victories in battle. President Washington created the Badge of Military Merit specifically to honor the outstanding service of enlisted soldiers and noncommissioned officers among his troops.

 

  1. Animals are among the list of Purple Heart recipients.

In its long history, the Purple Heart has been awarded to four-legged recipients. During WWI, a dog named Stubby was awarded two Purple Hearts for his actions with the 102nd Infantry Regiment. A horse named Reckless also received the honor twice for wounds she incurred during the Korean War. Military service animals aren’t currently eligible for the Purple Heart, however.

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  1. Many well-known individuals have received the honor.

Over the years, the Purple Heart has been bestowed upon many people who are well-known for their civilian achievements. This includes politicians such as John Kerry and John McCain, writers and filmmakers such as Kurt Vonnegut and Oliver Stone, and actors such as Charles Bronson and James Garner.

 

  1. The Purple Heart has been awarded to only one US president.

Politicians at all levels of government are among the list of Purple Heart recipients. However, the list of US presidents who have earned the honor contains only one individual: John F. Kennedy.

As a Navy reserve lieutenant during WWII, Kennedy was injured during a boat collision near the Solomon Islands. Despite the injury to his back, he managed to swim to shore and save another soldier. In addition to the Purple Heart, Kennedy was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for this act.

 

  1. More Purple Hearts were awarded during WWII than any other conflict.

John F. Kennedy is among a large group of over 1 million people who earned the Purple Heart for their actions during WWII. In total, 1.07 million of the medals were awarded during the war, which is more than all that were awarded in all other 20th-century conflicts combined.

 

  1. Purple Hearts weren’t always reserved exclusively for injured or mortally wounded service members.

Today, the Purple Heart medal is only awarded to military personnel who are injured or killed during a hostile encounter with enemy forces, but this wasn’t always the case. Originally, the honor could be bestowed on anyone who provided a “meritorious act of extraordinary fidelity” during military action, regardless of whether or not they were injured.

military parachuting

 

  1. The record for the most Purple Hearts awarded to one individual is in the double digits.

Although a number of service members have earned more than one Purple Heart, the record for the most Purple Hearts in US military history belongs to Curry T. Haynes. During the Vietnam War, the member of the 173rd Airborne Brigade of the 503rd Army Infantry received a series of injuries that later earned him 10 Purple Hearts. Haynes’ injuries occurred as the result of gunfire, grenades, and a B-40 rocket.

 

  1. Purple Heart Day honors Purple Heart recipients.

On August 7, government agencies, current and former service members, veterans’ organizations, and other groups come together to take part in National Purple Heart Day, which was first observed in 2014. This special day of observance gives people the opportunity to recognize the sacrifices of the men and women who have been injured or killed while serving their country. Ways to get involved include attending an event or donating to groups such as the Purple Heart Foundation.

 

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.