A Look at the Top Policy Priorities at Wounded Warrior Project

wounded warrior projectAlongside its enrichment programs to improve the lives of veterans and their families, Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) promotes a variety of advocacy initiatives to ensure that those in the military community continue to receive the government support they need. Towards this end, members of the organization’s Policy and Government Affairs team identify and campaign for policies that improve veterans’ services and assist caregivers and military families.

Over the years, WWP has played a key role in advancing legislation and policy initiatives that have improved Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) programs and created new opportunities for veterans who require care outside of the VA. The organization’s efforts have also led to increased financial assistance, training, and healthcare coverage for caregivers and veterans living with life-altering injuries. Read on for a closer look at some of the current advocacy activities that WWP is pursuing on the local and national level.


Promoting the FAIR Heroes Act

Since November 2017, WWP has been leading a coalition of 15 military service organizations pushing for the passage of the Fair Access to Insurance for Retired (FAIR) Heroes Act, which was introduced by Senator Bill Nelson of Florida and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut. The Act could help veterans with serious injuries save on healthcare costs by allowing them to choose between Medicare Part B and TRICARE, a low-cost insurance plan for active military members, military retirees, and their families.

Under current law, many veterans with serious injuries qualify for both Medicare and TRICARE but are forced to purchase Medicare Part B coverage, which is nearly five times more expensive than a TRICARE plan. It’s estimated that nearly 30,000 veterans nationwide could stand to benefit if Congress passes the FAIR Heroes Act into law. Other organizations that support the legislation include the Military Order of the Purple Heart, AMVETS, and Veterans of Foreign Wars.


Creating Support for Family Caregivers

Many post-9/11 veterans living with combat-related physical and/or mental health issues rely on the daily assistance of family members and other caregivers. Because WWP understands this fact, the organization works to ensure that caregivers have access to all the services and resources they need. WWP strongly supported the passage of the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010 and has since worked closely with the VA to help the department effectively implement its Caregiver Support Program.

WWP recently advocated for the passage of the VA Mission Act, which President Trump signed into law on June 6, 2018. In addition to streamlining the VA’s community care programs and healthcare delivery systems, the law contains provisions expanding eligibility for the Caregiver Support Program to more veterans. The law also requires the VA to implement information technology solutions to manage and monitor the program. WWP is now working alongside other veterans groups to ensure that the VA Mission Act receives proper funding without triggering cuts to other VA programs.


Enhancing Services for Female Veterans

In recent years, women have become the fastest-growing demographic in the military. They now comprise 8.7 percent of the country’s veteran population and 16 percent of WWP alumni. To help ensure the availability of programs and services tailored to the specific needs of female veterans, WWP has been advocating for the Improving Oversight of Women Veterans’ Care Act of 2017.


If passed into law, the Act would require the VA to submit an annual report to Congress on access to its female-specific services such as family planning, mammograms, and gynecological care. It would also require VA medical facilities to submit quarterly reports to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs addressing their compliance and non-compliance with environment-of-care standards for female veterans.

Along with working to improve oversight of care for female warriors, WWP is focused on creating more gender-specific peer-support programs for veterans. The organization is increasing the number of all-female alumni workshops and support groups, which are currently in high demand. WWP is also advocating for the passage of H.R. 4635, a bill that would require the VA to increase the number of counselors providing peer-to-peer services specifically for women veterans.


Advancing Mental Health and Toxic Exposure Research

Since its founding over 15 years ago, WWP has been leading efforts to better understand and treat combat-related mental health issues. The organization has been particularly focused on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI), which are the most prevalent injuries facing veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. In addition to working to improve mental health services for PTSD and TBI through its Warrior Care Network, WWP pushes the US Congress, the VA, and the Department of Defense (DoD) to advance research into these issues.

WWP is also advocating for more research to examine how exposure to toxic chemicals has affected post-9/11 veterans. Military members who served in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts may have been exposed to a range of chemical and environmental hazards from fuel and exhaust fumes, chemical spills, and open burn pits used for waste disposal. WWP is currently partnering with other veterans groups to ensure that veterans and military families are aware of ongoing research as well as the risks and effects of exposure to toxic substances.


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Here Are the Top Community Partners at Wounded Warrior Project

As one of the nation’s top veterans services organizations, Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) oversees a range of life-changing programs for those who have served their country. The organization also supports family members and caregivers of veterans by assisting with Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense claims and providing opportunities for military families to connect with one another in their communities. In 2017 WWP invested $166 million into programs that promote wounded veterans’ physical and mental health, emotional well-being, and independence.

Although WWP already offers programs in a variety of areas, the organization is always looking for better and more efficient ways to improve the lives of those in the military community. WWP extends its reach by working with individual volunteers and corporate supporters as well as a network of community partners. This network includes nonprofit groups working to assist veterans and military families throughout the country. The following is a closer look at WWP’s top community partners:


America’s Warrior Partnership

americaswarriorpartnershipThe mission of America’s Warrior Partnership is to bring veteran-focused nonprofits together to improve various initiatives for military families. Rather than working directly with veterans, the solution-based organization provides support, tools, and resources to help communities nationwide serve local veteran populations.

America’s Warrior Partnership’s signature initiative is its Community Integration program, which provides affiliate communities with a customizable framework for service in eight areas, including health, housing, education, and employment. America’s Warrior Partnership also oversees an annual symposium that educates veteran-serving professionals about the latest service solutions available.


Military Child Education Coalition

militarychildeducationcoalitionBased in Texas, the Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC) works with individuals and organizations across the country to ensure military children have access to quality educational opportunities. MCEC focuses much of its work on helping military installations and surrounding school districts address the academic and social needs of children who move multiple times and must deal with family separation throughout the school year because of their parent’s or parents’ military service.

In addition to a number of programs and training events for educators and other school professionals, MCEC offers various resources for military-connected parents and students. Through its Parent to Parent program, the organization conducts workshops that empower military families to advocate for the needs of their children. MCEC also oversees Student 2 Student, a national program that helps ease transitions to and from schools for military children in grades K-12.


Team RWB

teamrwbIn its mission to enrich the lives of America’s military veterans, Team RWB oversees physical and social activities that help veterans connect with one another and their communities. Team RWB activities include athletic and exercise events, community service projects, and small social gatherings. In 2017 the organization held more than 47,000 events in cities across the country. Team RWB currently serves over 137,000 veteran members through 204 local chapters nationwide.


National Military Family Association

NMFAAs the name suggests, the National Military Family Association (NMFA) is focused on supporting the spouses, children, and other family members of those serving in the United States military. Since its founding in 1969, the organization has played a key role in advancing several initiatives benefiting military families. The group’s past successes include helping to pass the Survivor Benefit Plan and extend Supplemental Security Income benefits to military families stationed overseas.

More recently, NMFA established a scholarship program for military spouses and launched its Operation Purple youth camps and family retreats to help families reconnect and take a break from the stresses of military life. The organization also provides information and resources on a variety of topics.


Team Rubicon

teamrubiconTeam Rubicon leverages the skills and experiences of military veterans to support emergency response efforts around the globe. The volunteer-led organization comprises 65,000 registered members who work alongside first responders and medical professionals in areas affected by natural disasters. Although veterans are not the focus of Team Rubicon’s mission, the organization provides a purpose, community, and identity to help individuals transition from life in the military.

Since 2010, Team Rubicon members have provided nearly $11 million in volunteer labor. Volunteers assist with disaster cleanup, incident management, damage assessment, hazard mitigation, and community rebuilding. The Team has responded to numerous natural disasters across the United States, including Hurricanes Harvey and Maria. Team Rubicon has also completed operations in Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America.


The Mission Continues

themissioncontinuesLike Team Rubicon, The Mission Continues provides military veterans with the opportunity to continue to serve after their time in the armed forces ends. Volunteers with the organization work alongside other nonprofit groups to address issues facing their communities. The Mission Continues also deploys teams of volunteers to support cleanups, building renovations, and other community revitalization projects.

Along with holding local weekly, monthly, and quarterly events, volunteers with The Mission Continues take part in weeklong mass deployment projects in underserved cities nationwide. The organization also oversees a fellowship program for post-9/11 veterans and reservists who are interested in volunteering six months of their time in exchange for a living stipend and assistance with leadership and professional development.

This Is What the Purple Heart Foundation Does to Help Veterans

mophAs the main fundraising arm of the Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH), the Purple Heart Foundation supports a variety of programs and services that help improve the lives of active-duty service members, veterans, and military families. The Foundation’s activities since 2008 have generated over $42 million for MOPH, which currently operates 478 chapters across the United States.

Although membership in the Order is limited to recipients of the Purple Heart Medal, the organization advances programs that assist all veterans, regardless of rank or service history. The Purple Heart Foundation works throughout the year to ensure that MOPH can continue working for its 46,000 members as well as the millions of other individuals who have served their country. The following provides an overview of how funds raised through the Foundation are put to good use.


Helping Military Families Receive the Benefits They Deserve

The majority of MOPH’s $9.75-million annual budget goes to its National Service Program, which helps veterans and their families obtain military benefits. A MOPH-funded staff comprising more than 100 accredited National Service Officers supports the program full time. The officers work alongside volunteers to educate veterans and help them file benefits claims with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The program also provides legal representation for veterans whose VA claims have been denied.

During the 2017 fiscal year, MOPH Service Officers assisted more than 12,000 veterans in filing VA claims and processing appeals. The officers’ work helped clients obtain nearly $214 million in VA benefits. Along with helping clients through the claims process, the National Service Program oversaw more than 2,000 educational outreach activities in 2017.


Supporting Service Members and Military Groups

In addition to providing grants to MOPH chapters and departments, the Purple Heart Foundation distributes funds directly to veterans and the organizations that support them. The Foundation’s grant program offers rehabilitation and welfare grants to veterans in VA hospitals and other care facilities. The program also funds initiatives that aim to improve the public’s understanding of military and US history.

When looking to fund other veterans’ organizations, the Purple Heart Foundation prioritizes those that are working to advance research into service-related injuries and conditions. The Foundation focuses specifically on helping groups that provide education, training, and/or treatment in the areas of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI). Past funding helped establish the National Intrepid Center of Excellence Satellite Center, a Fort Hood-based facility that provides rehabilitation services for veterans dealing with PTSD, TBI, and other conditions.




Funding Scholarships for Higher Education

Annual funding raised by the Purple Heart Foundation enables MOPH to award approximately 80 college scholarships each year. The MOPH Scholarship Program is open to MOPH members, including Purple Heart recipients as well as their spouses and direct descendants. While their size varies depending on annual funding, the scholarships typically provide around $2,500 to help recipients pay for tuition, books, fees, and other school-related costs.


Enhancing the VA Health Care System

Another major component of MOPH’s work is its Veterans Affairs Volunteer Services (VAVS) program. With the support of volunteers and Purple Heart Foundation funding, the VAVS program provides support services and enrichment activities for veterans in the VA health care system.

VAVS volunteers work in VA hospitals, clinics, and other care facilities to provide clerical assistance, nursing and outpatient support, and transportation services. Volunteers also use Foundation funding to take veteran patients on fun outings in the community. The services provided by the VAVS program enrich veterans’ lives while helping the VA health care system save millions of dollars each year.


Providing Service Dogs to Veterans

The Purple Heart Foundation supports NEADS (National Education for Assistance Dog Services) and its Service Dogs for Veterans program. Through the program, NEADS provides service dogs at no cost to veterans with physical disabilities, hearing difficulties, progressive health conditions, or combat-related stress disorders. NEADS trains the dogs to assist with a variety of tasks depending on the needs of the veterans they serve. Since founding the program in 2006, the organization has provided dogs to more than 100 US-based veterans.




Advocating for Veterans’ Rights

MOPH advocates at the local, state, and federal levels to represent the interests of veterans throughout the country. The Purple Heart Foundation helps advance MOPH’s advocacy activities, which include its annual March on the Hill event. In the past, the Order has fought for a number of issues alongside other veterans’ groups.

Currently, MOPH is pursuing legislative priorities focused on several areas, including veterans’ health care and benefits. Ensuring that veterans and active-duty service members can access the education and employment opportunities needed to attain success outside of the military is also a major priority. In addition, the organization is working to protect the prestige and purpose of the Purple Heart Medal. MOPH’s ongoing work in this area includes efforts to establish August 7 as National Purple Heart Day.


This Is How Wounded Warrior Project Has Been Assisting Veterans

wounded warrior projectThrough its efforts to empower military veterans and families to live life to the fullest, Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) offers programs and services that reach thousands of people each year. The organization’s programs focus on a variety of areas, including physical health, peer and family support, mental wellness, and career advancement. Since its founding in 2003, the organization has expanded nationally to serve over 111,000 combat veterans and more than 27,000 military family members.

Today, WWP continues to promote healing and increased quality of life among service members dealing with physical injuries, mental challenges, and emotional scars resulting from time spent fighting for their country. The organization achieves these goals through national programs as well as a wide variety of local activities that connect veterans with each other and their communities.

Here are just a few examples of the many ways that WWP has been supporting warriors in cities throughout the country:


Bringing Military Families Together through Art

According to the majority of respondents to WWP’s most recent annual survey, military veterans rely on the support of their families and other veterans to deal with combat-related mental health issues. In South China, Maine, military families had the opportunity to enjoy each other’s company while learning to express their artistic creativity at a fun paint-night activity.

During the February 2018 event, WWP helped veterans create unique, winter-themed paintings under the tutelage of local artists. The event enabled veterans and their families to spend much-needed time together doing a fun activity that produced a memento they can hang on their wall. Like all of WWP’s programs and resources, the Maine paint-night event was offered free of charge.


Empowering Women Who Support Wounded Veterans

veteranIn addition to helping combat veterans directly, WWP works to improve the lives of wounded warriors by equipping their families with the knowledge and skills they need to provide long-term support for their loved one. As part of these efforts, WWP held a special gathering for veterans’ female family members in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, in February 2018.

The weekend retreat featured a tour of WWP headquarters as well as team-building exercises and other bonding activities, including a Wonder Woman-themed movie night. The women at the event also had the opportunity to take part in an educational workshop on essential oils, which they learned how to use to enhance at-home massage-therapy sessions for the veterans in their families. For their own benefit, those who attended the retreat learned that they were not alone in their experiences caring for veterans overcoming combat-related injuries.


Using Nature to Promote Recovery

Earlier in February, injured veterans in Connecticut spent some time outside birdwatching and improving their nature photography skills. During the WWP-sponsored event, professional photographers taught participants how to take great pictures of wildlife and natural landscapes.

To help veterans capture the perfect photo, photographers demonstrated the proper use of cameras and various photography accessories. Participants also learned about photo editing at the event, which took place at the Shepaug Dam Bald Eagle Observation Area, a Southbury destination known for its bald eagle viewing opportunities.


Providing Resources to Jump-Start Creativity

In Colorado, military veterans sharpened their creativity indoors during a writing workshop held in Colorado Springs in late January. Along with helping veterans learn to develop story plots and characters, the workshop encouraged them to share their experiences and explore the ways in which they have overcome challenges inside and outside of the military. As is the case with many of WWP’s activities, the writing workshop was as much about socializing as it was about developing new skills.


Connecting Warriors with Careers in the Civilian Workforce

Throughout the country, veterans dealing with combat-related injuries are benefitting from WWP’s Warriors to Work program, which provides guidance, support, and resources to service members as they transition from the military to civilian careers. The program has helped veterans like Jarrod Tallman, a former marine who recently used WWP career counseling to secure a position with a Dallas-based medical center.

In addition to counseling services, the Warriors to Work program assists veterans with writing a resume, preparing for interviews, and connecting with local employers. The program is open to registered WWP alumni and family support members in all 50 states.

Warriors to Work also provides support for employers looking to make veterans an integral part of their organizations. To participate, employers must register with WWP through the Warriors to Work portal. More information about the program and any of WWP’s recent activities is available at