The Wounded Warriors Project is a non-profit organization that benefits injured U.S. veterans by helping them to recover and re-integrate into civilian life. It was founded in 2003 by John Melia, a wounded veteran who was injured while serving in Somalia in the early 1990s. He started out by filling backpacks with comfort items for patients at the Bethesda Naval Hospital and Walter Reed Medical Center. The program grew under the United Spinal Association of New York and became a stand-alone program in 2005. The program currently focuses its efforts on veterans who were injured in military action after September 11, 2001. It offers an array of programs that target the mind, the body, economic empowerment, and social engagement.
Not all wounds are visible; many veterans return from war with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or other psychological problems resulting from their experiences and the difficulties of adjusting to civilian life. The Wounded Warriors Project offers peer-to-peer support programs, outdoor retreats, and professional counseling services to help veterans deal with mental health issues. The Combat Stress Recovery Program is a comprehensive program that seeks to support a veteran’s readjustment process by taking into consideration the warrior’s point of view.
The Wounded Warriors Project offers physical health and wellness programs that are designed to aid recovery and rehabilitation. These programs include adaptive sports, fitness training, nutrition support, and mind/body wellness activities. One of the featured programs in this category is Soldier Ride, a four-day cycling event that provides adaptive bicycles for any type of injury.
Finding employment opportunities can be a challenge for injured veterans because they may have been out of the workforce for awhile and/or their injuries may prevent them from doing the work they were previously qualified to do. The Wounded Warriors Project helps veterans get training and support if they can move into a new line of work. The program also facilitates government benefit programs that can keep unemployed veterans financially stable.
The Wounded Warriors Project offers ongoing social support for veterans through alumni and family support groups along with advocacy on legislative issues. The Wounded Warriors Packs are gift-filled backpacks that communicate support to veterans in hospitals around the world. Alex Figliolia Jr. is a businessman and philanthropist who supports the Wounded Warriors Project in order to express appreciation for the sacrifices made by military service personnel.