Wounded Warrior Project is one of the highest-rated organizations on Charity Navigator in terms of accountability and transparency. The organization offers a wide range of services for veterans and their families, including assistance with the transition from military to civilian life.
While serving, many people are put under an enormous amount of pressure. They can feel traumatized as a result. This may place stress on their relationships with loved ones back home. The emotional wounds caused by combat and operational experiences need to be addressed before these relationships can again begin to grow.
Understanding the need for transitional services, Wounded Warrior Project is dedicated to helping veterans and their families understand the social, psychological, and spiritual wounds that may be caused by service. The organization believes that veterans with fulfilling jobs, excellent social support, and healthy coping strategies transition more effectively back to civilian life than those who do not.
Thus, the organization makes available a number of different programs to meet these needs. Here are just a few:
An Overview of the Combat Stress Recovery Program
At the heart of Wounded Warrior Project’s efforts to transition veterans effectively back to civilian life is the Combat Stress Recovery Program. Through this program, the organization reinforces the belief that asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but rather one of strength.
Working from the warrior’s perspective, the organization strives to understand the effect of combat and operational stress, as well as post-traumatic stress disorder. From there, the organization tries to meet people where they are.
Unfortunately, there is stigma attached to mental health. This stigma can block access to care and cause challenges in interpersonal relationships. Through the recovery program, veterans are challenged to reimagine their idea of “normal” and set healthy goals for reintegration.
The flagship component of the Combat Stress Recovery Program, and where most veterans start their journey to healing, is Project Odyssey. Project Odyssey uses nature as a healing tool.
The program’s name comes from Homer’s epic poem about Odysseus coming home after the Trojan War. Like the poem, the program is about overcoming the adversities that veterans face, so that they can feel truly at home.
The rehabilitative retreat encourages connection with peers, nature, knowledgeable counselors, and members of the Project Odyssey staff. Participants build new skills and interact with nature while connecting to peers and building a support network. Activities include rafting, horseback riding, fishing, rock climbing, and more.
Three Different Ways to Experience Project Odyssey
Currently, Wounded Warrior Project offers three different types of experiences through Project Odyssey. The first is a regional program, which takes place over the course of five days.
This program is designed to be the first step toward recovery and reintegration. It places its focus on networking with other veterans in similar positions who live nearby.
Veterans who feel that their relationship with a significant other has suffered because of their service can sign up for the couples Project Odyssey program. Also a five-day retreat, this experience focuses on rebuilding trust and addressing the relationship wounds that have been caused by combat experiences.
The third Project Odyssey program is geared toward people who are currently serving and are stationed overseas. Individuals on active duty and in recovery at Germany’s Landstuhl Regional Medical Center can participate in an international version of the recovery program to start the healing process before they even return to American soil.
In the near future, Wounded Warrior Project will be expanding this offering to other units throughout Europe in order to help individuals transition home.
Importantly, Project Odyssey does not stop with the retreat. The program continues to provide support through local organizations and resources. To receive continued support, individuals must have approval from a Project Odyssey staff member and register for the Wounded Warrior Project Alumni Program.
A Look at the Wounded Warrior Project Alumni Program
The Alumni Program serves as an entry point to many of the no-cost opportunities available to veterans through the Wounded Warrior Project. In addition, the program connects veterans and their families to various events in their area that they might appreciate.
At the heart of the program is the understanding that military colleagues become as close as family, especially in combat settings. By connecting service members to other veterans, the program aims to foster meaningful relationships.
The events organized by the program range from opportunities for professional development to simple recreational outings. Many of the events have a focus on family or spouses, to help improve relationships and repair possible wounds.
Once veterans register with the Alumni Program, they will receive weekly emails detailing local events and explaining who is invited. Members of the network are free to take advantage of as many or as few opportunities as they would like.
Through the alumni network, graduates of the Project Odyssey program are connected to opportunities that will build on the experiences they had during the retreat and help them continue along the path to recovery.
Individuals can learn more about all of these programs online at WoundedWarriorProject.org.