Wounded Warriors Inspire Victory
Published: Sunday, November 4, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01
We sometimes call our sports figures heroes. We cheer for them, even scream, and often aspire to be like them, believing that they hold it in their power to make us happy.
Many would call Eagles wide receiver Johnathan Coleman, A&S ’13, a hero. The crowd certainly expressed its adulation following Coleman’s game-winning catch in the final minute of Boston College’s football battle with the University of Maryland on Saturday, Oct. 27, and certainly more than a few younger fans left the stadium seeing him, and his teammates, as role models.
Although the Eagles might welcome the title of role models, during the Maryland game, they demonstrated their awareness of true heroes by wearing distinctly patriotic uniforms, to show upport for the military veterans in the Wounded Warrior Project. The players were emblazoned with American flag motifs, and their uniforms featured not names but terms related to the military: “Freedom,” “Courage,” “Country,” “Service,” “Honor,” “Commitment,” “Integrity,” and “Duty.”
Directly following the game, these uniforms entered an online auction, to be held through Nov. 10, whose entire proceeds will benefit the Wounded Warrior Project. Under Armour, the athletic apparel provider for BC and partner with the Wounded Warrior Project, began endeavoring to raise more funds for the project in 2009, and has selected each year Division I teams to participate to by wearing and then auctioning off the uniforms.
For BC, supporting this project seemed an ideal way to live up to the school’s Jesuit motto, “Men and women for others.” Founded in 2003 in Roanoke, Va., the organization began as an initiative to support wounded members of the armed forces returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, but has since grown to an international force, with 23,607 members—or to use the Wounded Warrior Project’s term, alumni—as of Oct. 1.
The foundation houses a variety of programs, organized into four major categories—Mind, Body, Economic Empowerment, and Engagement—all dedicated to supporting different facets of an injured service member’s life once he or she returns to civilian existence.
The Mind umbrella of the program attempts to recognize the often-invisible injuries that warfare can inflict, including post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. Because there still exists a stigma attached to these mental illnesses, these programs seek first to address the reality of the service member’s condition. They include “Project Odyssey” retreats for injured military personnel to share their experiences and heal in the presence of their peers; “Restore Warriors,” an online support network; family support retreats to educate and provide a break for families; and “My Care Crew,” an online organizational tool that allows friends and family to support the family of a wounded warrior.
The Body programs address the physical rehabilitation of wounded military personnel. Through sports programs adjusted to the needs and abilities of the participants, such as “Soldier Rides” cycling events, the injured servicemen and women not only regain independence and mobility, but also confidence to compete physically.
Economic Empowerment programs seek to help veterans reassert themselves in the civilian educational and career systems. Some of its divisions focus on education—“TRACK” provides a yearlong educational background and introduction into the civilian workforce in centers in San Antonio and Jacksonville, while the Campus Services program provides support for injured service members in a traditional educational setting. Others are more work-oriented, such as the Transition Training Academy, free information technology classes for wounded warriors as well as their caregivers, and Warriors to Work, a career counseling and job placement service.
Under Engagement, the Wounded Warrior Project offers a host of other services. Through its Resource Center, the organization assists service men and women in obtaining their benefits, and advocates for the cause of wounded warriors through government policies such as 2010’s Caregivers Act. Additionally, the center supports wounded warriors overseas by providing comfort supplies such as clothing and blankets to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, often the first stop for injured military personnel. The Alumni Program, run through the Resource Center, and serves as a supportive network for wounded service members to connect with one another and share their experiences and healing, as does the “Peer Mentoring” program, which pairs recently returned wounded warriors with those further along in the healing process to serve as a role model and a friend. In supporting the Wounded Warrior Project, BC seeks to give back to those who have sacrificed for our country, and displaying the partnership in such a visible way as the football uniforms served as a reminder to BC students of real heroes.
“I think that the uniforms were a wonderful way to pay tribute to the women and men in the armed forces. I also thought it was great that the uniforms were going to be auctioned off to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project,” said Danielle Nista, A&S ’16. “I love that project because it gives back to people who have given us so much.”