JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Jan. 12, 2017) – Dean Ambrose took the Intercontinental Championship belt, A.J. Styles talked smack to John Cena, and a group of injured veterans and family members saw the whole thing in person during a recent Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) outing to WWE® SmackDown Live. As warriors took in a few hours of live professional wrestling, they experienced firsthand what is possible at social gatherings that get them out of the house and connected with fellow service members.
More than 100 participants began their evening at WWP headquarters, where they dined on pizza while staff members informed them about programs and services that help in the recovery process.
“It was a great way to learn about the resources Wounded Warrior Project offers,” said Marine Corps veteran Victor Mercado. “I recently found out about the organization when I saw a billboard on a trip to Jacksonville. Once I got home, I researched the company and signed up. The staff here makes the facility feel like a second home.”
Victor – a long-time fan of professional wrestling – was excited that his first outreach event would be a trip to SmackDown Live with his daughter. Making the gathering more enjoyable was the fact that he got to meet and connect with other veterans in his community.
“It was awesome to sit with other veterans and have a good time with one another and our families,” he said. “Outings like this are great for those of us with post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety issues. It allows people like me to get out of the house and keep busy. Too often, we let ourselves get consumed by our issues and forget how to take care of ourselves.”
These connection activities support the long-term recovery needs of warriors by reintroducing them to the unique bonds experienced during military service. In a WWP survey of the injured warriors it serves, more than half of survey respondents (51.7 percent) talked with fellow Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, or Operation New Dawn veterans to address their mental health issues.
Victor said he also appreciated learning about the various programs WWP offers. The programs assist injured veterans with mental health, physical health and wellness, career and benefits counseling, and connecting with other warriors and their communities. Through the generosity of donors, these programs are available to warriors and their families at no cost to them.
“It’s a great organization to be a part of,” Victor said. “I feel comfortable being around other people who understand what I have experienced, and it’s good to know there is a dedicated staff that can address questions, issues, or concerns about the benefits we have earned as veterans.”
To learn more about how WWP’s veteran programs and services connect, serve, and empower wounded warriors, visit https://newsroom.woundedwarriorproject.org. To find photos from this event, click on multimedia, then images.
Contact: Rob Louis – Public Relations
About Wounded Warrior Project
We Connect, Serve, and Empower
The mission of Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) is to honor and empower Wounded Warriors. WWP connects wounded warriors and their families to valuable resources and one another, serves them through a variety of free programs and services, and empowers them to live life on their own terms. WWP is a national, nonpartisan organization headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida. To get involved and learn more, visit woundedwarriorproject.org.