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A Lifetime of Commitment

A Decade of Service. 24 24

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olleen Saffron never set out to be a fighter. It was her husband, Staff Sgt. Terry Saffron, who was the soldier planning to serve his country for more than 20 years. All of that changed after an IED explosion in Iraq left her husband severely wounded in 2004. Colleen learned to fight—and to be loud. In addition to being Terry’s loving wife and mother to their three children, Colleen learned to fight for the ongoing care Terry needed, as well as the training and support she needed to serve as his caregiver. Some days she wonders who will be there 10 or 20 years from now when Terry needs more care, and she can’t physically provide it. She wonders if anyone really knows what it will cost to provide the long-term care a generation of wounded veterans will need after surviving devastating injuries with many decades of living ahead of them. As the voice for this generation’s wounded veterans and their families, Colleen and Terry have found support in Wounded Warrior Project (WWP). WWP works to help warriors and their families heal from both visible and invisible wounds, with a vision to foster the most successful, welladjusted generation of wounded service members in our nation’s history. In the last decade, WWP has served more than 45,000 wounded veterans and 5,500 family members through 19 programs and services, providing a customized, holistic, and rehabilitative approach to assistance and care. Thanks to the generous and sustaining support of the American public, WWP is able to maintain and evolve these innovative programs to address emerging care issues injured veterans will face over their lifetime. Programs such as Project Odyssey and Soldier Ride engage participants physically and emotionally. Programs such as Warriors to Work help warriors gain control of their financial situation, helping more than 1,000 warriors gain meaningful employment in fiscal year 2013 alone. The Peer Support program currently provides mentors to more than 640 warriors and caregivers, and more than 90 warriors participate in peerfacilitated support groups. But to truly honor and empower

March March 2014 2014 // HOMELAND HOMELAND

wounded veterans and their families, WWP must fight to ensure the promises made to them by our government are kept. WWP has fought hard in its first 10 years, and legislative successes only bolster WWP’s commitment to fight for them for a lifetime. In 2012, WWP won enactment of legislation to expand the scope of required rehabilitative care for veterans with traumatic brain injury (TBI), helped lay the groundwork for enactment of strong mental health provisions, and successfully pressed the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to add peer-support services for injured veterans to its mental health workforce. WWP’s advocacy on behalf of caregivers for a comprehensive caregiver-assistance law saw steadily increasing numbers of caregivers gain much needed VA support. And WWP’s first major legislative success, the Traumatic Service members Group Life Insurance (TSGLI) program, helped bridge the gap between a warrior’s time of injury and the start of VA benefits payments to alleviate the most pressing financial hardships warriors face immediately after injury. As of October 31, 2013, TSGLI has paid over $817 million in benefits to eligible warriors since the program’s inception in 2005. Perhaps most importantly, the organization is looking ahead to the future, where uncertainties abound for our nation’s injured veterans. WWP is empowering a generation of warriors and their families to build meaningful roads to recovery that meet their needs today and tomorrow. WWP recognizes that no injured veteran’s path to recovery or vision for reintegration is the same, and it continues to push the envelope on the care options available to our veterans to ensure that support will be there however and wherever they need it. WWP is committing $30 million in 2014 to cover both the immediate and long-term care needs of 250 of the most severely wounded warriors who without this funding are most at-risk for institutionalization. For all the sacrifices made today by wounded veterans and caregivers like Colleen and Terry, Wounded Warrior Project is committed to their tomorrow “We promised each other forever the day we were married,” says Colleen. “Nobody told us how tough that road would be at times, but that promise, that devotion holds us together.”

“We promised each other forever the day we were married,” says Colleen. “Nobody told us how tough that road would be at times, but that promise, that devotion holds us together

Homeland March 2014  

Real stories from real heroes; service members, veterans, the wounded and the families that keep it together.

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