The Wounded Warrior Project has become the most powerful and influential charity to help wounded vets in record time
Many of you have heard the rumors flying about the Wounded Warrior Project being a scam that pays their executives a ridiculous amount of money. I’m going to lay these rumors rest and explain why the Wounded Warrior Project is the pinnacle of all veteran non profits and how they are everything that the VA should strive to be.
[sociallocker]In 2004, the Wounded Warrior Project along with a group wounded Veterans from Walter Reed proposed a bill that created funding for severely wounded vets known as the Service members’ Group Life Insurance Traumatic Injury Protection (TSGLI) which amended the SGLI military insurance plan, it allowed severely wounded veterans to receive up to $100,000 in insurance money for emergency funding while hospitalized.
Some of my friends are the ones who took this to our Capital to make it a reality. But you wont believe this, other major veteran charities which I wont name opposed the bill and tried to get it killed, just because they weren’t the ones who created it. This type of jealous behavior takes place against the Wounded Warrior Project today since they are the new guy on the block and because they are so good at what they do. Let me explain to you why the Wounded Warrior Project is not a scam and why what they do cannot be replicated by others[/sociallocker]
Lets start with what they do for our Wounded Warriors.
My first experience with the Wounded Warrior Project was in 2004 just as they were starting up, literally from the back of a van. When I woke up at Walter Reed Army medical center, I was not only missing my legs and arm, but all my clothes. When we are shipped across the world we have no personal items with us. To my surprise I noticed a black backpack next to my bed with the Wounded Warrior Project logo, inside this bag was essential clothing and hygiene products. I was able to have a little something to feel normal again. This program is still in effect but on larger scale.
Some wounded warriors are sent to Germany as well as stateside locations and their families are sent to those locations to see them. These family members are telephoned by the military or have a chaplain sent to their home like my family did, they don’t know if their son or daughter will survive and rush out the door on the next flight to see their wounded warrior.
When these family members arrive at the hospital the Wounded Warrior Project has a liaison there to meet the family (You heard that correct, the WWP is doing the job that our government isn’t doing). The WWP employee gives each family member a Family Support Tote (FST) which is a fully loaded duffle bag with blankets, airplane pillow, card games, a coffee thermos and a very important planner so they can keep track of the zillion of things going on, and many other items too.
[quote_box_center]“At that moment, there probably wasn’t a more significant gift [WWP backpack] that I’ve ever received. And with the gift came a promise…that if there was anything I ever needed, they were there for me. It was just really nice to know there was somebody in your corner.” —Wounded Warrior[/quote_box_center]
As you can see from the very moments when a warrior is wounded, the Wounded Warrior Project is right there to help in anyway possible, and throughout the entire hospital and rehabilitation stay, they are by your side helping helping you recover. Whether you need financial assistance, help navigating the treacherous VA system or you want a special night away from the hospital with a loved one, they are there to assist and motivate you to success.
Life after the hospital for a Wounded Warrior
When a Wounded Warrior leaves the hospital for good they are entering uncharted territory and leaving a highly controlled and structured environment for one that is completely uncontrolled. When a warrior leaves they now fall under control of the Department of Veterans Affairs for all their appointments and medications, and as we have learned this is a complete disaster for veterans and no one wounded warrior should be stuck to navigate this mess alone. Once again the Wounded Warrior Project steps up to never leave a man behind.
The Wounded Warrior Project has a ton of programs that are activity based to get warriors out of the house and doing things again. They are based around four transitional needs– Mind, Body, Economic Empowerment and Engagement . These programs are so extremely helpful to our veterans and just amazing to have. They are all at no cost to the warrior and completely inclusive to the entire family. I’ve been through a couple of these transitional programs and they are just exceptional.
My family and I were flown to Germany to participate in the Soldier Ride which united hundreds of coalition wounded warriors from around the globe to take part in bike ride through Germany. Everything we did was covered, and it was because of the generous donations from American citizens. The experience was game changing for me and I was surprised how much it impacted my outlook on things. I’ve participated in other WWP events such as multiple trips to NYC to meet with other warriors, share experiences and have downtime. Without a doubt the Wounded Warrior Project has easily spent $30,000+ on my family and I alone, just to give us the tools to not only succeed but to also help other warriors in need.
Warrior Programs In-Depth
I’ve only touch the tip of the iceberg with their programs and what they do plays a very important role in a majority of our combat veterans lives, just not the physically wounded like myself. Post Traumatic Stress (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) are the signature wounds of these wars and anyone who has served post 9/11 can participate in any Wounded Warrior Project program for free, including whole family’s, such as wives, children, parents, grandparents and siblings. Everyone is affected by these wounds
They offer unique retreats and educational programs for everyone at no cost to them. The healing process is an entire family ordeal, everyone is affected, so everyone deserves to have the care. No other charity or government organization does this.
The Combat Stress Recovery Program is something I think is the most important and I have refereed many veterans to give it a shot. They give veterans and their families the tools to deal with post combat stress, relationships and adjustment back to normal civilian life. Having a healthy relationship is vital for recovery and he WWP engages the warriors with on staff psychologists and “outdoor, rehabilitative retreats that promotes peer connection, challenging outdoor experiences, and healing with other combat veterans”. Please check it out here, there is no other dedicated program like this available.
Economic empowerment is vital for veterans to be successful and financially stable. The Wounded Warrior Project “offers higher education programs, information technology training, and employment assistance services to encourage economic empowerment for warriors to provide long-term financial stability for themselves and their families”. They have three programs available to help warriors with Economic empowerment which are, TRACK, Transition Training Academy and Warriors to Work. TRACK is amazing, its a “12-month program gives warriors a jump-start on meeting their educational goals, while also supporting goals around personal health and wellness, mental health and career development.” And this is all done in house at their education center. Use the links above to learn about the other two programs.
The Wounded Warrior Project gave about $880,000 to nearly 100 veterans in the form of college scholarships and stipends for its yearlong TRACK Program, which helps veterans transition to college and the workplace.
Thomas Toomey, a 30-year-old former infantryman who was severely injured in Iraq, said the TRACK program helped him learn everything from business etiquette to how to use Excel spreadsheets. Now a veterans’ liaison for U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw in Jacksonville, Toomey said, “If not for the TRACK program, there’s no way in the world I would have gotten this job. I didn’t even have a suit.”
One of the last initiatives the Wounded Warrior Project does is to ensure the warriors physical health and wellness are where they need to be. Warriors need to be active, not sitting around in old buildings drinking beer telling war stories; that is not a path to success.
They offer four program levels for physical health and wellness and will fly each warrior and/or their family to attend certain events too. I’ve been offered many free trips to Alaska to go fishing and hunting and even sailing in the Caribbean. However, because I was a full time student of Architecture at the University of Arizona I wasn’t able to make these trips, but since I just graduated i’m looking forward to seizing the opportunity. Below is a breakdown with links to these programs.
- Inclusive Sports – It’s about what you can do. Over 40 different sports programs
- Fitness – Enhance your physical fitness, no matter where you are on your journey.
- Nutrition – Fuel your body during recovery.
- Wellness – Unite body and mind for overall wellness.
But they pay some employee’s so much!?
They have been criticized for paying 10 employees $150,000 or more and executive director Steve Nardizzi who’s total income was roughly $330,000 last year has also come under fire. However, these payments are inline with similar sized organizations. According to Charity Navigator only 5.6% of their income is spent on administration. And as a wounded warrior who has been involved in the excellence that this charity does, it angers me when I hear people complaining about how much some of their employees make. As far as i’m concerned there is no other other charity who has impacted this many wounded veterans lives in such a positive manner.
Rewarding success shouldn’t be frowned upon, these people have built the most powerful influential veteran organization in less than 5 years and as they reach the 10 year mark they have become a powerhouse. The Wounded Warrior Project has become woven into the fabric of our veteran community and is responsible for the success of most of our returning wounded warriors. They have picked up the slack on programs that the DoD and VA wont offer and have grown into massive business like model, yet they are still a charity.
They spend a majority of the money they raise on counseling veterans and conducting sports and education programs. Last year they donated nearly $5 million to other charity groups such as the American Red Cross and Resounding Joy, a music therapy group in California. According to a 2012 IRS filing they reported that 73% of its expenses went towards veterans programs.
They are structured and sized like any big company and have offices and employees such as doctors and psychologists in house to give vets the care they need fast, instead of waiting years for an appointment at the VA. They have employees in nearly every major city in the U.S. and reach out to veterans in need of help. Their 250 or so employees are mostly fellow veterans and warriors who have been through their programs and are the reason for the companies success; lets not discredit them for this.
Next time you hear anyone bashing the Wounded Warrior Project ask them if they are a wounded veteran or if they have been through any of their programs. Look at the people who support the WWP like me, look at their site, we are all wounded veterans and have seen what they do, that is why we support them. Take the word of our severely wounded veterans not some random person.
The Wounded Warrior Project leaves no man behind. Watched what I’ve achieved with their help