In 2008, then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates designated November as Warrior Care Month in order to inform members of the military and their families and communities about the programs and initiatives currently being provided through the Warrior Care system and the forthcoming improvements. Throughout the month of November, The Office of Warrior Care and all of the services' wounded warrior regiments have been highlighting various wounded warrior programs, activities, stories of recovery and personal triumphs. Warrior Care Month does not only highlight what is being done for our Nation's wounded, ill and injured service members, but also about what they do for us, how they continually give back to our communities, their families and this great nation that they have sacrificed so much to protect.
Warrior Care Month is a joint-service event that recognizes wounded warriors and warrior families, while serving as an opportunity to raise awareness of the resources available to service members should illness or injury occur unexpectedly. But many ask themselves what they can do at the command, installation or individual level. I submit that every month is Warrior Care Month, and that November is simply an opportunity to for all branches of service to publicly recognize wounded warrior heroes.
The Navy Wounded Warrior-Safe Harbor (NWW-SH) website, www.safeharbor.navylive.dodlive.mil, offers a number of options for all military and civilian personnel looking to help. Listed on their website are a number of ways to help raise awareness of Warrior Care Month, including links to talking points, social media materials and You Tube videos. People can also get involved in the NWW-SH Anchor Program, which matches Sailors and Coast Guardsmen in transition with two mentor volunteers - a peer mentor from a local Reserve component, and a senior mentor selected from a pool of community veterans and retirees.
Currently, there are more than 4,500 wounded warriors enrolled in the NWW-SH program and the Navy runs the program for both Sailors and Coast Guardsmen who are casualties of conflicts, shipboard and training accidents, liberty accidents or have serious medical and psychological conditions (e.g. cancer, PTSD). Sailors and Coast Guardsmen may self-refer to the program or be referred by family, command leadership or medical providers.
NWW-SH works to return a Sailor or Coast Guardsman to duty. When that is not possible, the program works collaboratively with federal agencies and local organizations to help them successfully reintegrate into their communities, easing their transition to civilian life and ensuring they are cared for throughout their lifetimes.
This year, the Navy hosted the 2017 DoD Warrior Games from June 30-July 8 in partnership with the city of Chicago. This marked the first Warrior Games to be held outside a military installation or a U.S. Olympic Committee facility. The Warrior Games were created in 2010 as a way to enhance the recovery and rehabilitation of wounded warriors and to expose them to adaptive sports. For more information about the Warrior Games, visit the new website at http://www.dodwarriorgames.com/.
I witnessed an accident on deployment that resulted in an amputation of a Sailor’s leg. The Navy was able to have him rejoin the crew for the return to homeport, and he said, “it was the most important part of the recovery”. “To be back with his shipmates,” was very important to him. The Navy is a family; we take care of each other, rely on each other and miss each other when we are apart. Let’s not forget all our Sailors, especially our Wounded Warriors. Please take a moment out of your busy schedules to remember and thank our Shipmates who have sacrificed so much.