Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) recently gave thanks to veterans in the Atlanta area by inviting them and their families to a Thanksgiving meal, complete with all the trimmings. As they ate, injured veterans had the opportunity to connect with fellow warriors in their community.
The meal had the feel of an extended family gathering, with more than 70 warriors and their family members in attendance. It was a welcome experience for Army veteran Luis Algarin. He said while 2016 had been a challenging year, it was important for his family to spend time with others who have been through similar situations.
“My kids made new friends, and I got to talk with my service brothers and sisters without feeling anxious the whole time,” Luis said. “At Wounded Warrior Project events, we get to be completely comfortable around other warriors, just making jokes and having a good time.”
WWP outreach gatherings provide opportunities for injured veterans to form bonds in settings that accommodate physical injuries and social anxieties. In a WWP survey of the injured warriors it serves, more than half of survey respondents (51.7 percent) talked with fellow Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, or Operation New Dawn veterans to address their mental health issues.
“This was my opportunity to give my family the righteous Thanksgiving dinner every child and family deserves to eat on such a glorious holiday,” he said. “I really enjoyed the fellowship with other wounded warriors, and it was great to see my kids playing with the other children there.”
After serving meals to warriors and their families, WWP staff spent time with attendees in the dining room, advising them of additional programs and services to assist in their recoveries. Through the generosity of donors, these programs, services, and outreach gatherings are available to wounded warriors and their families at no cost to them.
“It means a lot to me to be a part of the Wounded Warrior Project family,” Luis said. “To me it means pride, dignity, honor, respect, and integrity.”