CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea – On the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001, millions of Americans sat, glued to their television sets watching as two planes, controlled by suicide terrorists, crashed into the north and south towers of the World Trade Center.
The United States responded quickly and deployed massive formations to defend the country.
As fast as troops were being deployed, they were being sent back home, wounded and without bare essentials: shaving kit, socks, undergarments, or toothbrushes.
This is when the Wounded Warrior Project was born.
“The Wounded Warrior Project was established by military veterans who were on active duty on September 11, 2001,” said Daniel McShane, Wounded Warrior Project, outreach coordinator. “It was initiated as a way to deliver care packages to Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines that were evacuated out of the theatre of war.”
The veterans realized wounded service members would be medically evacuated to Germany and then Walter Reed without toiletries.
At first, tactical care packages were sent to the injured. McShane said that was their “bread and butter” and because the feedback was so positive the Wounded Warrior Project grew and every year more programs are introduced to support the servicemembers.
Nineteen Years Later
For 19 years, WWP has been serving members with both visible and invisible wounds brought on by their military service.
“The program has been expanded to combat and non-combat warriors,” said McShane. “All members in the warrior community with a visible or invisible wound brought on by their military service are eligible to join as members of the Wounded Warrior Project. We call them our alumni.”
Alumni are offered a wealth of programs and services to help maintain their mental, physical and financial well-being.
“The idea is to build a community – a foundation of warriors,” said McShane. “A community that will help our service members find the resources they need to stay holistically healthy.”
McShane said one resource he encourages transitioning service members to check out is the Veteran Affairs office because they are entitled to benefits when they leave the military.
“The Wounded Warrior Project can be a great guide to help service members receive the benefits they deserve,” said McShane. “Some of the counselors we have are VA-benefit trained and I think all of them, if not most of them are themselves are former military personnel.”
McShane goes on to say Veterans of Foreign Wars, United Service Organization and the Red Cross are also big non-profit organizations which have a large community reach.
“Wounded Warrior Project, being associated with the Red Cross, has access on a first-level basis with our warrior community,” said McShane. “That is not something all the non-profits have.”
Wounded Warriors at Humphreys
McShane said what’s also nice about WWP is because it’s made up of warriors, it creates a community of greater support because the members understand each other. It also allows the organization to operate on military installations.
“The expansion OCONUS (Outside of Continental United States) happened as the organization grew,” said McShane. “We were looking for places that were warrior hubs. Places where Soldiers were deployed in large numbers. The U.S. military in Korea is about 28,500, so they wanted to service the population that’s here.”
The Wounded Warrior program on Camp Humphreys is nested on the fourth floor of Brian D. Allgood Community Hospital alongside the Red Cross.
“I’m helping assist in our inpatient and outpatient behavioral health upstairs,” said McShane. “I brief the intensive outpatient patrons about Wounded Warrior and then I teach guitar twice a week with the inpatient patrons. Some of the patients call it the Wounded Warrior Program School of Rock.”
McShane mentioned wanting to take advantage of the natural beauty of Korea, the Land of the Morning Calm, and use outdoors and local services as therapeutic outlets for his alumni. He plans to start booking these activities in September.
Spreading the Word
There is usually a Wounded Warrior representative, handing out WWP gear, stationed at a Red Cross table during Humphreys community wellness events.
“We did the health wellness expo at Collier Gym and celebrated nurses’ week at the hospital,” said McShane. “I get to pass out some goodies and tell people about the Wounded Warrior Project. It is significant because we encounter people who may not be uniformed personnel, but they may be in contact with someone in uniform who may benefit from these services. It’s more about spreading the word and finding some footing for our local community.”
McShane said he also started a blog for the alumni to view events, programs and services that are open to them. He is looking forward to adding a video diary of service members to share their warrior stories.
Any warrior on Camp Humphreys looking for a support system can contact Daniel McShane at DSN: 315-737-2288, commercial: 050-3337-2288 or by email: Daniel.McShane@redcross.org.
You can also find more information about the Wounded Warrior Project at: woundedwarriorproject.org