Time to Look at Real Solutions for Wounded Warriors
As I write this, it happens to be Veterans’ Day (Armistice Day to those of my age). Certainly one does not have to go far to see most media wane patriotic (some overnight), and that is fine as far as it goes.
But what about the life experience of those for whom ‘Honor and Duty’ is more than a slogan. Severe injury or disability is a daily reminder of what it means to step up for one’s country and way of life.
I’ve been impressed by the non-partisan, non-government efforts of the Wounded Warrior Project. Their efforts to help those who have been injured in the military (and their families) is a great example of Americans’ having their backs’ at home.
While attending the AAPEX automotive show last week, I finally got lucky in Las Vegas. I met Captains Todd Monroe and Jeff Bacon from a group called the ‘Wyakin Warriors Foundation.’
These two former military leaders have turned their skills to enabling severely wounded and injured veterans achieve personal and professional success as business and community leaders.
As Todd and Jeff explained, “men and women join the military for several reasons, but they all share – and have demonstrated – a willingness to serve. That spirit of service doesn’t go away when a warrior is wounded or injured, and we continue that commitment in the Wyakin Warrior program.”
Here Is How It Works
The Wyakin Warrior Foundation™ through its Wounded Warrior Academy™ is a nonprofit organization providing a comprehensive training package for wounded and injured veterans to include:
• A full, four-year scholarship (room, board, books, tutoring, living expenses).
• Training seminars by the nation’s top business leaders and public officials.
• A multi-layered mentoring program consisting of three levels.
• Lifetime membership in a fraternal organization (The Wyakin Warrior Foundation™).
• Robust networking to secure employment in a satisfying and rewarding career.
The Wyakin Warrior program specifically targets wounded veterans who have the interest and motivation to contribute as leaders in business, government and/or their communities; but lack the education and training to do so. They provide both.
Mentorship Is Key
Each Wyakin Warrior will be hosted by mentors at the national, local and campus levels.
National Level Mentor – Each veteran will be sponsored by the nation’s top leaders in business, government, or the military. The national-level leaders will be assigned one, and only one, Wyakin Warrior and asked to follow the veteran for five years: the four years of school plus one year following graduation. They will contact their Wyakin Warrior at least quarterly, and the Foundation will pay for one face-to-face meeting each year while the student is in school.
Local Mentor – Each Wyakin Warrior will be “adopted” by a veteran in the local area. In many cases, the local veterans will be double-hatted as local contacts for the various Wounded Warrior programs sponsored by the individual services (Marine Corps: Wounded Warrior Regiment; Navy: Navy Safe Harbor; Army and Air Force: Wounded Warrior Program; SOCOM: SOCOM Care Coalition).
Student Squads – More of a buddy system, each Wyakin Warrior will be introduced to three fellow students attending the same school who will be his/her on-campus companions. The student “squad” will assist the student veteran with orientation and assimilation into campus life.
Successful completion of the Wyakin Warrior program brings with it a commitment for life. For the rest of his or her life, the veteran will always be a Wyakin Warrior, and will never be alone.
The hope is that graduates of the Wyakin Warrior program will eventually find themselves in positions to give back to other wounded warriors through mentoring or participating in training seminars.
Bill Wade is a partner at Wade & Partners and a heavy-duty aftermarket veteran. He is the author of Aftermarket Innovations. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.