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Veteran Finds Hope, Help, and Support Through WWP

Severa Parrish could have a life of ‘what ifs.’ What if her military career had continued? What if she had been the Marine to die in a helicopter crash in Iraq?

Instead, Severa found hope, help, and fellow veterans to lean on through Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP).

Severa joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 2000, in part to honor her deceased father. She immediately enjoyed the camaraderie that comes with serving alongside other Marines.

But in 2004, a squadron helicopter crash left Severa asking questions. A fellow Marine – a husband and father – died when the enemy shot a helicopter down. When the helicopter and that Marine did not return, Severa was left wondering why she could not have taken his place.

“Why him? Why not me? He had a daughter who he’ll never see grow up. It should have been me instead.”

Severa has dealt with this survivor’s guilt for 12 years, struggling with feelings many survivors feel following a traumatic experience. Severa also sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and lives with the symptoms of post-traumatic stress.

The wounds of war are not always visible. WWP has been serving warriors through specialized veteran mental health programs for 15 years. Thanks to generous donors, all are tailored to each warrior’s specific needs and free of charge.

“When I first got home, I thought I was OK. I didn’t go get help.”

But she wasn’t OK. Severa retreated from the everyday world as her night terrors and angry outbursts became more common. She didn’t know what to do. After an eruption with a young family member, Severa finally decided it was time to address her demons.

Through a program with VA, Severa started to take on her challenges. VA also told her about an organization with promise.

“They said there was a way to go through life instead of being alone.”

WWP showed Severa what she did not know was possible. This new path in life led her to find support and camaraderie with other warriors instead of feeling isolated because of her TBI and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“They helped me in many ways. There is a connection in my healing process. As I heal and progress, my relationships with friends and family improve.”

One of the ways WWP helped Severa heal is through a mental health workshop called Project Odyssey®. She participated in the very first all-female Project Odyssey WWP hosted.

“It was encouraging to meet so many strong-willed women dealing with similar issues. I liked knowing that Wounded Warrior Project attracts and helps female warriors. We all served our country. We did our job. We volunteered to leave our families and put ourselves in harm’s way. We’ve earned it.

“We went through different challenges and learned to work together to adapt and overcome. We went horseback riding, bicycling, rappelling.”

These tasks and adventures brought the group of veterans closer together. WWP offers intense multi-day mental health workshops for veterans coping with TBI and PTSD. These help warriors and their families maintain healthy, meaningful relationships while pursuing life goals – free from the stigmas associated with mental health issues. The workshops – offered as all-male, all-female, or all-couples – are powerful, outdoor rehabilitative gatherings that connect warriors with each other and local communities.

“You had females coming together to try to work as a team.”

By working together, warriors build trust in one another and grow confidence in themselves. For Severa, working with veterans from other branches of service also helped her. Before the Project Odyssey, the Marine veteran did not think she would connect with those from other branches of service.

“I was against working with other branches of service. I just thought the Marine Corps was better. I was hoping for a Marine Corps roommate, but instead, I roomed with an Army veteran. It turned out really well.

“No matter what branch you serve in, these women are there to support you, which was great to experience. Each night we would get together and talk about whatever we wanted to.”

In a WWP survey of the wounded warriors it serves, more than half of survey respondents (51.6 percent) expressed they talk with fellow veterans to address their mental health issues.

After spending several days with female warriors, Severa found friends that she can lean on in the future. They use social media to stay in contact and continue supporting each other.

“You have the same camaraderie you had when you were in the service.”

Severa has been to several mental health workshops, finding new coping mechanisms and developing new support.

“Wounded Warrior Project is helping other veterans when they are ready.”

WWP serves warriors by connecting them with one another and their communities and focusing on mental and physical health and wellness, financial wellness, independence, government relations, and community relations and partnerships. Programs and resources are free of charge to those WWP serves thanks to generous donors. Warriors are empowered to live life on their terms, mentor fellow veterans and service members, and embody the WWP logo by carrying one another along a path toward recovery.

“When warriors are involved with Wounded Warrior Project, we give each other hope. When you’re alone, your mind can play tricks on you and lie to you. You can fool yourself into believing that no one understands. That’s how I felt, but I was wrong. There are thousands of people who understand and have been through exactly what you’re going through for the same reasons you’re going through it. That’s why it’s so important to connect with other warriors and to share that same teamwork you had in the military. Individually, we’re strong. Together, we’re invincible.”

What if she hadn’t gone on that mental health workshop with Wounded Warrior Project? She did, and she is stronger for it.

WWP is committed to helping wounded veterans achieve their highest ambition. When they’re ready to start their next mission, WWP stands ready to serve.

Learn more about Project Odyssey by clicking here.

 

Contact: Rob Louis – Public Relations, rlouis@woundedwarriorproject.org, 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: http://newsroom.woundedwarriorproject.org/about-us.


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