Join Us!: NDW Wounded Warrior Family Symposium

A flyer for the NDW Wounded Warrior Family Symposium.Navy Wounded Warrior — Safe Harbor’s third regional Wounded Warrior Family Symposium will take place at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Nov. 6. Wounded warriors and family members or caregivers from the region will share their stories, detailing the challenges they have faced throughout the recovery process. The symposium is open to the public, and it likely will be attended by local medical professionals, family support services staff, and others who can learn from the testimonials provided and the resources available at the event. If you are in the area, please join us! The stories of our wounded warriors and their families are inspirational and eye-opening.

If you cannot attend, learn more about the family support services available through Navy Wounded Warrior — Safe Harbor now.

Warrior Care Month 2014 is Underway!

The Warrior Care Month 2014 logo (Facebook profile picture).Today marks the kick-off of Warrior Care Month, an annual effort to increase awareness of resources available to wounded, ill and injured service members, their families, and those who care for them. This year’s theme, “A Show of Strength,” recognizes the fortitude and resiliency that seriously wounded, ill and injured service members exhibit during their journey toward recovery.

To show your support for Warrior Care Month, we urge you to change your Facebook profile picture to the Warrior Care Month logo (above). Please also be sure to follow the latest news on Facebook and Twitter (@navysafeharbor; #WarriorCare and #ShowofStrength).

Throughout the month, numerous events that honor wounded warriors will take place in regions throughout the country. Here in Naval District Washington, several events may be of particular interest to local wounded warriors, their families, staff members at government agencies and nonprofit organizations, medical professionals, and others who assist wounded warriors. Stay tuned for more information about them!

Nov. 6: Regional Wounded Warrior Family Symposium
Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (USO); 9 a.m.
Hear from local wounded warriors and their families about the challenges they have faced during recovery.

Nov. 12: Warrior Care Policy Facebook Town Hall
Check www.facebook.com/navysafeharbor for more detail!

Nov. 20: Wounded Warrior Sitting Volleyball Tournament
Pentagon Athletic Center; NOON
Watch members of the gold medal-winning Navy team go head-to-head against other services!

Nov. 20: Wounded Warrior Rehabilitation Expo
Pentagon (Apex 1-2/2nd Floor); 10 a.m.
View artwork, listen to music and experience other forms of therapy for wounded warriors.

We hope to see you at some of these events!

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month

The 2014 National Disability Employment Awareness Month poster.Held each October, National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is a national campaign that raises awareness about disability employment issues and celebrates the many and varied contributions of America’s workers with disabilities. The theme for 2014 is “Expect. Employ. Empower.”

NDEAM’s roots go back to 1945, when Congress enacted a law declaring the first week in October each year “National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week.” In 1962, the word “physically” was removed to acknowledge the employment needs and contributions of individuals with all types of disabilities. In 1988, Congress expanded the week to a month and changed the name to “National Disability Employment Awareness Month.” Upon its establishment in 2001, ODEP assumed responsibility for NDEAM and has worked to expand its reach and scope ever since.

Disability employment is an issue of particular importance to Navy Wounded Warrior (NWW) — Safe Harbor, which helps seriously wounded, ill and injured service members and their caregivers find employment. Though they may face obstacles that others do not, our wounded warriors make valuable contributions to the workforce. Learn more about NWW’s employment and education assistance program now.

Photo of the Week: Disabled Veterans Memorial

A photo of a Navy Wounded Warrior -- Safe Harbor enrollee visits the American Veterans with Disabilities for Life Memorial.Navy Wounded Warrior (NWW) — Safe Harbor enrollee, retired Hopsital Corpsman 3rd Class Kenneth Swartz (left), recently visited the new American Veterans Disabled for Life Mermorial in Washington, D.C. The memorial honors service members who return home with life-altering disabilities, which serve as stern reminders of the price of freedom. Swartz, who was wounded in Afghanistan, was joined at the memorial by Army veteran John Kohl (right), the husband of NWW representative, Navy Lt. Aileen Kohl. Like Swartz, Kohl also was wounded during Operation Enduring Freedom. NWW thanks both of them for their service and sacrifices!

Live from the Warrior Games: Pedaling Together

A photo of retired Navy LTJG Laura Root at Warrior Games 2014.By retired Navy Lt. j.g. Laura Root, Team Navy member

We’re in the heat of Warrior Games 2014 in Colorado Springs! This is my second time competing, and, for me, Warrior Games is a bit like Christmas. First and foremost, we – disabled U.S. veterans – get to spend a full week with one another – some of our favorite people. After reconnecting with and meeting the members of the other teams and hearing their stories this week, Team Navy is overwhelmed with respect and admiration.

Everyone has unique challenges, but the Warrior Games mark a special time of year when our community joins together to rise above whatever issues we’re facing. It’s a refuge where we are identified by who we are individually, beyond the “disabled” or “military” labels we often hear.

For many of us, our lives were irrevocably changed after our injuries or diagnoses, and rehabilitation initially seemed unattainable. In military adaptive sports, however, we are reminded that our best days are still ahead, and we learn resiliency skills that carry us through tough times. We have an opportunity to redefine ourselves as we participate in sports that we love. At Warrior Games, we celebrate what we can achieve together after facing our worst-case scenarios.

Warrior Games 2014 is devoid of any flashy international celebrities or extremely high-profile politicians. It is completely centered our tight-knit network, which includes veteran support organizations, Reservists, family and friends, and active-duty military.

So far, we have faced the most challenging cycling course I’ve seen in 10 years. Despite having trained on longer courses with more elevation gains, I almost couldn’t complete this year’s course. Between the challenging topography and elevation, the course was almost too much for someone like me to handle – someone who has been diagnosed with a neuromuscular disease. I kept telling myself it was more a mental battle than anything else, but the physical repercussions were far too real.

Still, the best moment for me in two Warrior Games took place on that cycling course. Two competitors from SOCOM and the Marine Corps teams decided that the three of us should finish together. They coaxed me through the most difficult parts of the course, including a hill so steep that I worried about rolling backwards. My teammates and coaches cheered “ pain is temporary!” and “its like pedaling through hummus!” on the worse part of the hill.

During the quiet, lonelier parts of the course – free of spectators – it was my military sisters on the SOCOM and Marine Corps teams who slowed down to talk to me. Just as in life with any kind of disability, the lonelier parts of the course were the hardest. We rolled through the finish side by side, wearing the colors of three teams. Warrior Games is the highlight of the year for many, where we find the camaraderie and togetherness that sustain us through the challenges that lie ahead.

Photo of the Week: Standing Tall

A photo of retired Navy BM1 Jim Castaneda and his wife Alona.At the Warrior Games this week, retired Navy Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class Jim Castaneda was able to something he hasn’t done in years — stand upright. He tried out an Action Trackstander, which allows wheelchair-bound individuals to stand and move about while upright. Castaneda — who is pictured above with his wife and primary caregiver, Alona — was confined to a wheelchair several years ago after a suffering a stroke and related health complications. He had a big smile on his face while he was using the Action Trackstander, and he had a blast driving it around the gymnasium before that evening’s sitting volleyball game began. Go, Jim, go! #TeamNavy

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