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You don’t want to read another preachy, guilt-ridden post about Memorial Day, do you? Wouldn’t it be great to enjoy a weekend without the pressure, and without the guilt? Guess what? You’re not alone. The people we honor on this weekend would like nothing better as well. No pressure. No guilt. Just enjoyment for a weekend. Any weekend, but especially this one.

For veterans, Memorial Day can be a stressful day, as all the focus turns to the brave and noble service members, particularly those who have served in active areas and situations, bringing to light all the trauma and tragedy of their service. Nothing was enjoyable about that, and to have it put solidly in the spotlight is often a way to unintentionally open old wounds.

For the past ten years, the Wounded Warrior Project has set out to honor military personnel returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, finding ways to assuage the wounds they bear, honoring and empowering them with the knowledge that they are not alone.

From its beginning in 2003, providing backpacks filled with both necessity and comfort items to returning soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen, the project has grown to the point where it currently offers twenty different programs for their well-being. Organized and managed by veterans and active duty service members, this organization has a distinct awareness of the needs of the returning individuals, and sees to them in a holistic sense. With the motivation that “the greatest casualty is to be forgotten”, every action of care and service reminds the warriors that neither they, nor their fallen buddies are absent from the minds of Americans.

Many of these who return (as many as 1 in 5) require assistance in dealing with “invisible” wounds such as post traumatic stress disorder, combat stress, and other injuries. The Wounded Warrior Project tends to these as well, recognizing even the damage that cannot be seen with eyes. None who were deployed to active duty ever came back the same, but there is great hope that those those who know the realities best have teamed up to offer them the best of care.

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Wounded Warrior

Those of us who were fortunate enough to attend the recent PBR event in Nampa were able to see the Wounded Warrior Project in action, as local alumni were brought together and treated to a VIP experience. The attending warriors were offered far beyond a simple “ticket to the show,” and were honored to to the highest degree by the community, sponsors, riders, the audience, and the PBR itself. It was touching to see so many people come together to offer these men and women with an evening of fun and action, thanking them by serving in return.

You probably don’t need me to remind you of the reasons for or value in Memorial Day. Truly I hope you enjoy it to the maximum with whatever plans you might have. Many have done strong and brave things to allow you to do it. I, for one, am grateful that someone is reaching out to them and providing the things that I cannot since they have done things beyond my ability for me.

Finally, from all of us to all who have served, a true, genuine, and heartfelt thank you. You are not forgotten, and never will be.

Are you, or do you know a veteran who has served in Iraq or Afghanistan who would be aided by the programs offered by the Wounded Warrior Project? Please see their registration page for details on involvement, as resources are available.  The project is also dependent on the donations of those who are able to support these returning veterans, with information at woundedwarriorproject.org.

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