Providing Help & Hope to American Heroes

Recent news stories about the poor outpatient living conditions and miles of bureaucratic red tape at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., have highlighted the fierce challenges faced by injured veterans and their families. The ever-rising numbers of injured veterans returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan are straining the federal government’s ability to provide all-encompassing care — and are pointing out the need for friends, neighbors, peers and communities to get involved in the long healing process.

It was one such personal story that led to the 2006 creation of Hope for the Warriors, a civilian-run, non-profit organization that aims to provide a wide range of support to injured veterans and their families.

When Shannon Maxwell’s husband, Lt. Col. Tim Maxwell, was seriously injured in Iraq, they benefited from the support of family and friends throughout Tim’s long recovery. Shannon Maxwell then sought to pass along similar support to other “Wounded Warriors” who may not have the same resources or know how to access them.

Among Hope for the Warriors’ programs are Warrior Houses, which the organization describes as “transitional, adapted living quarters for wounded families until such time that they can find suitable long-term adapted housing.” The homes feature entryway ramps, roll-in showers and doors widened to improve wheelchair accessibility. Warrior House also acts as a temporary home for families visiting injured veterans at the Maxwell Hall medical facility and the Naval Hospital at Camp Lejeune, a Marine Corps base in North Carolina.

Hope for the Warriors also grants “Warrior Wishes” to severely injured troops. Thus far, the organization has raised money to serve as a down payment for an accessible home for one badly injured Marine and rallied its network of supporters to provide a laptop computer and iPod for another Marine looking forward to entering college after his recovery. The program also created scholarship programs so the spouses of injured troops can go to school, support groups for spouses at various stages of their loved ones’ recoveries, and emergency financial assistance for spouses and parents to travel to visit seriously injured troops or to purchase assistive technology for Warriors living with brain injuries or amputations.

The organization supports its projects through private donations and by fund-raising efforts such as this month’s 2007 Run for the Warriors event at Camp Lejeune, motorcycle poker runs and golf tournaments. People who wish to contribute but aren’t able to attend any of the official Hope for the Warriors events can sign up with Team Wounded Warrior, then collect funds from supporters by participating in another biking, walking, running or swimming event not already designated to raise money for charity.

If Hope for the Warriors can help you or someone you love, or if you want to make a difference in the life of an injured hero and his or her family, go to www.hopeforthewarriors.org, or call (910) 938-0596.

This article originally appeared in the May 2007 issue of Mobility Management.

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