On the back of my car I have a bumper sticker magnet that reads: BELIEVE IN HEROES. This magnet has been through hell--a hurricane, a car accident, three weeks in a repair shop (and an entirely new bumper), and countless rainstorms and flooded streets. But it is the motto of the Wounded Warrior Project, and like the Wounded Warriors the Project helps, it seems to just keep going.
Last summer, after my husband's deployment, the Wounded Warrior Project sent some men to my husband's squadron to take a tour and hang out with some of the guys. These men were almost all Marines under the age of 22, and they had all been wounded in the service in some way, mostly in Afghanistan. It happened that on the day they came, the squadron was doing its physical readiness tests, one of which involved running a mile and a half. One of the guys from the Wounded Warrior Project--in a wheelchair--participated in the run with the other guys, wheeling himself the entire way... and he beat a lot of them! Afterwards, they came to a squadron family picnic on the lawn of the base, and I had the chance to meet some of them. Their stories were amazing. Many of them had had over 10 surgeries to repair their injuries; many of them had been only 18 or 19 when they were injured. But their optimism was astounding to me. What was even more astounding was how much they looked up to my husband and the other pilots. "When I was on the ground and I saw you guys flying over us... that was the best part of the whole thing. That was the greatest show on earth," one of them gushed. The funny part was that my husband was more astounded by them than they were by him.
The Wounded Warrior Project (woundedwarriorproject.org) has a mission to raise awareness and to enlist the public’s aid for the needs of injured service members. Their projects are varied, but one of their goals is to do what they did when they sent those men to my husband's squadron--to reconnect the men in the program with active duty military, so they can feel like they are still a valued part of the service (which they are). A lot of times, when someone is injured, one of the worst parts about it is the isolation that occurs, and the feeling like they are now separated from their people they had come to serve with. These field trips help reinforce that they are still important and that their sacrifices meant something. The Wounded Warrior Project also is a complete rehabilitative effort to assist warriors as they recover and transition back to civilian life.
Please, please consider donating some money to the Wounded Warrior Project. You can also get your own Believe in Heroes gear through this link: www.woundedwarriorproject.org/shop.aspx to help spread the word.