When Port Huron Northern Varsity football players took the field on October 12th at Memorial Stadium, the crowd didn’t see their blue and gold uniforms. Instead the players sported specially designed jerseys honoring or in memory of local veterans and supporting the national nonprofit, The Wounded Warrior Project. This was the second year in a row that the Husky players have taken the field to honor veterans and raise funds. The team aimed to raise $3,000. “Our players feel honored and privileged to be able to recognize and support our nation’s military heroes while playing at our home field, which was built in honor these same heroes,” said PHN Varsity Football Coach Patrick Connell.
Being a cause embraced by the community is familiar territory for the Wounded Warrior Project. This nonprofit began when several veterans and friends, moved by stories of the first wounded service members returning home from Afghanistan, took action to help others in need. One of the founders, John Melia, had been severely wounded in a helicopter crash while serving in Somalia in 1992. What started as a program in 2002 to provide comfort items to wounded service members, has now grown into a complete rehabilitative effort to assist warriors as they transition back to civilian life. In a truly innovative move, the organization includes support services and classes for the wounded veteran’s care partners, knowing that injuries are life-changing and impact not only the veteran, but the entire family.
The Wounded Warriors Project also advocates for legislation that will assist our injured heroes and their families. They celebrated a victory recently after legislation to improve long-term care for warriors with traumatic brain injuries, a serious side-effect of the tools of modern warfare, was signed into law by President Obama in August. In a move to evolve treatment options, Wounded Warriors Project utilizes the web to deliver information and services. They offer free, confidential, self-paced Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) resources through their Restore Warriors program. This online tool offers resources and self-help exercises to assist in building coping strategies for real-world challenges.
In San Antonio Wounded Warriors recently partnered with the Culinary Institute of America to put on cooking classes for wounded veterans. Proper nutrition is important for everyone, but even more so for the wounded who might be unable to exercise. As always with Wounded Warrior activities, camaraderie among the veterans only served to grow their support system. Anna King told KSAT News, “You don’t feel so odd. You don’t feel … like nobody understands you. You don’t feel alone anymore. It’s really therapeutic.” King suffered injuries from a mortar attack while serving as an Army Captain in Iraq.
For 35Projects I was proud to sponsor a jersey in memory of Dewayne T. Williams who was killed in Vietnam on his 19th birthday.