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Wounded Warrior Project Support is Music to a Caregiver’s Ears

Mary Scibona with her son, musician and veteran Richard Ottum, who is in Wounded Warrior Project's Independence Program.
Mary Scibona with her son, musician, and veteran Richard Ottum.

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. – Mary Scibona never thought she would see, or hear for that matter, the day her son would make music again. Richard Ottum, a lifelong musician, had not made music since a car crash in 2009 upended his life and left him with a severe brain injury. He was unable to care for himself or make music. That thrust Mary into the role of adult caregiver – supporting her son.

Prior to the injury, Mary watched her son live a life full of music.

“I think Richard came out of the womb loving music,” she said.

When he joined the Army after high school, his music-making continued. “He was working as an engineer, engineering music,” Mary explained.

The car crash changed the course of Richard’s life.

“I was told he would never do that again,” Mary said.

Mary found help at Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP). WWP designed its Independence Program for warriors like Richard who have survived a moderate-to-severe traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, or are living with a neurological condition. Independence Program works with the warrior and family to develop a tailored plan to improve independence and quality of life. For Richard, it meant help in the home and access to non-traditional therapies, including music.

“The Independence Program came in and provided so much for us – music and art and all the different benefits where he was able to get out in the community.

“To see Richard thriving and being able to carry a beat and be a part of music again is just – I’m honored to see. To know that he can play the piano one-handed and drum and keep a beat. Music therapy has been a godsend,” Mary said.

Besides helping Richard, WWP’s Independence Program also offers support to Mary to help her deal with the stresses she experiences as a caregiver. Mary takes part in different virtual programs to connect with other caregivers.

“I’ve grown; I’ve gotten to meet so many people that are in my shoes – I had no idea there were so many of us,” she said. Along with the support of others, Mary learns to be there for herself better. “I’ve learned about writing and taking care of myself and keeping a journal. Doing other crafts that I didn’t even know I could do. I’ve learned so much, and I feel more human again.”

Independence Program also helps Mary and Richard plan for the future with life-care and financial planning services provided free of charge, like all WWP programs and services.

“The Independence Program has provided so much for me and my family,” said Mary. “To see him do all this – it makes my heart sing.”

Contact: Rob Louis — Public Relations,, 904.627.0432

About Wounded Warrior Project

Since 2003, Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) has been meeting the growing needs of warriors, their families, and caregivers — helping them achieve their highest ambition. Learn more.

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