Saving Warrior Lives: Peer Support Unmasked By John Roberts
Claude shattered and compressed his vertebrae and compromised 80 percent of his spinal canal after a sudden helicopter crash in Iraq. After enduring four surgeries and eight months of grueling rehab, Claude proved doctors wrong by walking again. He even received approval to fly again, deploying to Iraq for the second time. And although Claude’s 25-year service to country eventually concluded, Claude continues his service by supporting fellow injured veterans as a warrior mentor with WWP.
Veterans often feel alone until they realize others have similar thoughts, feelings, problems, and experiences. The Peer Support program provides a first step in helping these warriors connect with one another as it fuses supportive rehabilitation with the military adage “Leave No Man Behind.” This warrior-to-warrior support is a special type of therapy that reintroduces injured veterans to the unique bonds experienced during military service. The goal of peer support is to improve warriors’ resiliency and psychological well-being. As they progress in their recovery, many become mentors to other warriors who are at the beginning stages of transition and recovery. The journey continues until every injured veteran who was once the warrior being carried off the battlefield is empowered to become the warrior who carries others, thus embodying the WWP logo. At WWP, this is known as “living the logo.” For warriors, the logo is an undeniable symbol that reminds them of their resilience – and their passion for continued service. Warrior mentors know what it is to endure the road to recovery. This unique equality in their relationships with other warriors allows them to serve as a role model, motivator, supporter, and friend, while also maintaining close vigilance of each warrior’s needs and potential triggers.
“Wounded Warrior Project’s Peer Support program is saving lives every day,” - U.S. Army veteran Claude Boushey
HOMELAND / October 2017
The result? Warriors saving other warriors’ lives. WWP doubled down on the Peer Support program’s success by increasing its focus on group support to better connect and serve wounded veterans and service members. These groups are then facilitated by warrior leaders who WWP selected for demonstrating leadership strengths and their abilities as a peer mentor. Peer Support Group leaders are volunteers who must be willing to commit eight to 10 hours a month to the support group they lead – after attending a mandatory, extensive, multi-day training seminar to help them support their WWP peers on the path to healing.