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Veterans Rock Out to '80s Classics with Wounded Warrior Project

The creativity and playfulness of art can be vital in a warrior’s recovery; so is the opportunity for self-discovery.


JENSEN BEACH, Fla. (March 27, 2017) – Trying not to get paint everywhere while belting out Prince’s “Raspberry Beret” or Whitney Houston’s “How Will I Know?” would have been a challenge even for Bob Ross. Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) invited a group of warriors and their guests to face this very predicament when they connected at a recent couples painting date night – with ’80s classics.

These WWP connection events give wounded warriors an opportunity to experience firsthand what is possible at social gatherings that get them connected with fellow service members.

The creativity and playfulness of art can be vital in a warrior’s recovery; so is the opportunity for self-discovery.

“Wounded Warrior Project empowers us to be more than just wounded vets, and we can reach new heights we may not have seen on our own,” said Marine veteran Mike Larson. “People were singing along to the songs and having fun painting a beautiful beach sunset scene.”

Mike’s personal favorite of the ’80s classics? “Joan Jett’s ‘I Love Rock N Roll,’” he said.

Only one thing rivaled Mike’s enthusiasm about painting with acrylic for the first time: turning the activity into a competition with his wife. “I usually do sketching, so I liked the challenge of painting something that looked easy at first.”

A highlight of these connection events is when warriors make new friends out of kindred veterans who they didn’t know lived nearby. It was the same for Mike and his wife.

“We met several other couples at the event. Most were in Port St. Lucie where we live,” Mike said. “We were surprised because we have lived here for eight years and didn’t know any other wounded warriors. The event helped introduce us to the local community of warriors and their family members.”

Mike has benefited from his long-time involvement with WWP. His journey started in December 2005 when a little black bag – nondescript, except for the logo on the front – set him on a new course.

“I was at National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. I was in and out of surgeries, and one day a backpack was there with the white Wounded Warrior Project logo on it.”

Mike began a deep dive into WWP programs: He has participated in mental health workshops for his post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Soldier Ride®, and physical health and wellness programs. Like many warriors, Mike finds fulfillment in helping fellow veterans.

“I really like the Peer Support program because it afforded me the opportunity to pass on knowledge of Wounded Warrior Project programs to my fellow vets and offer them the same help it has given me over the years,” Mike said.

WWP’s multi-day mental health workshops have proven especially impactful in Mike’s life.

“The workshop helped me find different PTSD coping mechanisms outside those offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs,” Mike said. “It also helped me introduce myself to fellow veterans from Florida who are all in different stages of recovery.”

For Mike, the best part of the workshop was the personal clarity it offered: “It allowed me to put my own path into perspective. I was able to see how far I have come in my recovery,” he said.

The 2016 WWP Annual Warrior Survey highlights the importance of connection at WWP outreach events. These settings support the long-term recoveries of warriors by accommodating physical injuries and social anxieties.

To learn and see more about how WWP’s programs and services connect, serve, and empower wounded warriors, visit, and click on multimedia.


About Wounded Warrior Project
Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) connects, serves, and empowers wounded warriors. Read more at

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