This blog post was sponsored by Wounded Warrior Project® for Believe in Heroes but the opinions are all my own.
Shortly before 9/11 my husband, then boyfriend, joined the Army National Guard. There was no discussion between us, and as far as I can tell from conversations with him, it was just a whim that he did to help pay for school. I had mixed emotions about it because I knew this meant there would be some major changes to our life because of it, and I didn’t know which direction it would take.
When 9/11 happened my heart sank, not only for the great tragedy that our country had suffered but because I knew it meant even more troops, deployments and potentially more fatalities were coming. With all of the chaos of thoughts, I didn’t know how that would affect my husband, being in the National Guard. I cringed for many days, weeks, I don’t know how long, just waiting for him to be called on for deployment. Eventually we got engaged, we moved and finally we were married.
It wasn’t long after our wedding that my husband was called up for a 15 month deployment. All of our plans for the next year would be put on hold. No more talk of starting a family, no more talk of vacations, now I was preparing for something I didn’t know how to prepare for. For our unit, National Guard families aren’t on base, so there isn’t a built in support system there. Our unit was spread across Nebraska, which meant finding support with other people who were going through the same thing was difficult. I thought maybe I would find some comfort in being the Family Readiness Leader to organize some family support activities, but with the distance between families it wasn’t as involved as I had hoped it would be.
We missed our first, and second anniversary with this deployment. We did get to talk on the phone some, but often I would have no way to hear from him because they were frequently on a communication blackout and didn’t allow any unnecessary or unsecured contact. It was a difficult year and a half, but my husband’s unit eventually came home, and they were proud to say they had no casualties on their watch.
Since then my husband has been on one other year long deployment and works full time for the military now. I still worry for his safety, but aside from a bit of hearing loss, his military career hasn’t wounded him. Unfortunately I can’t say that for every service member who has given their all for our country. We all know of the thousands of service members who have lost their lives, and the thousands of others who have been wounded while serving. It’s these Wounded Warriors I want to talk to you about today and tell you how you can help them.
Meet Wounded Warriors
Meet Sergeant Erik Schei. Erik was wounded by a sniper while on a mission in Iraq, his second deployment. The bullet pierced his helmet and his brain. His parents had to make a difficult decision because the Doctors didn’t think there was much hope for his future, but his parents decided to take him home and care for him. He’s mostly paralyzed and is wheelchair bound.
Wounded Warrior Project has been amazing for the entire family. His mother, Christine, has learned better how to care for him and has found support with other wives and mothers to wounded veterans. Erik does physical therapy each week with Wounded Warrior Project and has recently enrolled in the WWP Independence Program to help him relearn more skills as he eases back into the community.
Now I’d like to introduce you to Captain Mary McGriff. Mary was diagnosed with PTSD after her deployment to Iraq. While there she worked 12 hour shifts and when she got off work she headed to the base hospital to volunteer. She was there during the worst battle of Fallujah and she wondered everyday if it would be her last. There were constant mortar and rocket attacks that took a toll on her mentality.
When she returned home she hid her PTSD for many years in fear that it would affect her career if anyone found out. She thought she could get through it on her own. After six years she finally broke down in front of her commanding officer, but it didn’t end her career as she had feared. Instead, she was allowed to finish her 20 years with part of her “job assignment and mental health treatment” being to attend Wounded Warrior Project functions, including a Project Odyssey ®.
How you can help Wounded Warrior Project
I’ve shared just two stories about the Wounded Warrior Project, and there are many more. Thousands of our veterans have been wounded while serving our country, thousands more are affected by invisible ailments as a result of their service, including PTSD, depression and more. Wounded Warrior Project is committed to serving injured service members for their lifetime. The mission of WWP is to honor and empower Wounded Warriors, providing rehabilitative efforts to assist warriors as they transition back to civilian life.
Wounded Warrior Project® Believe in Heroes® campaign is one of the largest national cause marketing campaigns in the USA. It brings brands, retailers and consumers together in support of injured service members and their families through the simple act of grocery shopping.
By supporting the brands that support Wounded Warrior Project, you are helping support our Wounded Warriors. Grab this shopping list that includes the brands supporting Wounded Warrior Project. Brands have already made a fixed donation to WWP through the Believe in Heroes campaign of $1,150,000 for this year. WWP is anticipating raising $5,000,000+ in total this year and brands will help make this happen.
So, here’s what you can do to help. Support the brands that support our heroes or you can make a donation to Wounded Warrior Project.
Thank you for all the help you are doing to help our Wounded Warriors. Remember supporting WWP is as easy as supporting the brands who are supporting WWP.
Do you have a story to share about how the Wounded Warrior Project has impacted you or a loved one? I’d love to hear your stories, please share them in the comments below.