A program to help wounded warriors that was started by Jim Hull and Laurie Ott just five years ago has blossomed into something very special indeed. The following is an update on the leadership of this project and some important actions that have been undertaken recently. This will be followed by how you can help support and extend the mission of the Augusta Warrior Project.
Formerly called the CSRA Wounded Warrior Care Project, the AWP has broadened its mission to assist both wounded warriors and other veterans needing assistance. The executive director is Jim Lorraine. When he was chosen for his position in 2011, it was clear that there was no person in America better qualified to replace Laurie Ott. A retired Air Force officer, Jim had extensive experience caring for those wounded warriors with the greatest amount of close combat experience – the special operators in the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines.
Prior to moving to the CSRA, Jim served as the founding director of the United States Special Operations’ Command Care Coalition, a wounded warrior advocacy organization that supports more than 5,000 special operators who are wounded, ill or injured. An important part of that mission is to provide care for their families. During this time Jim also served under Adm. Mike Mullen as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s special assistant focused on wounded warrior and military family issues.
Here a number of important programs that the AWP has recently undertaken.
• Homeless veterans. This is an acute problem in many American cities – an ongoing tragedy. The story in our area is wonderful. Two years ago, there were 183 homeless veterans in Richmond and Columbia counties. Today there are almost none. The AWP, working with community partners, has found permanent housing for these veterans. The AWP also has assisted many of these formerly homeless veterans in enrolling in school, finding employment and obtaining the full benefits they have earned as veterans. In addition, the AWP constantly is in search of homeless veterans throughout the CSRA.
• Finding jobs. In just the past 90 days, the AWP, with the assistance of many businesses in the local area, has placed 83 veterans into full-time, well-paying jobs.
• Educational opportunities. Many veterans need help in dealing with various bureaucracies to take full advantage of the benefits provide by the G.I. Bill. In 2012, with the assistance of Georgia Regents University, Paine College, the University of South Carolina Aiken, Augusta Tech and Aiken Tech, the AWP has placed 152 veterans into college or training programs.
• The Aiken Warrior Project. To fully support veterans in the CSRA counties of South Carolina, the Augusta Warrior Project created the Aiken Warrior Project in 2012.
• Entertainment initiatives. The AWP arranged for Gary Sinise and the Lieutenant Dan Band to perform at Fort Gordon. In addition, the AWP works closely with Donnie Thompson to ensure that the annual Thunder Over Augusta extravaganza is a success. This year, it is scheduled for May 18. Again, it will be at the Evans Towne Center Pavilion.
If this program is to continue doing its great work, it will need your financial support. What can you do? Here are some suggestions.
• Donate to the AWP. It is very easy. Electronically donate through its website (www.augustawarriorproject.org); send a check to the Augusta Warrior Project, 4115 Columbia Road, Suite 5-333, Martinez, GA 30907-0410; or call (706) 434-1707 to arrange a payment method.
• Support the five-kilometer “Reid on the Run,” which takes place on the morning of Saturday, Feb. 2, starting at Reid Memorial Presbyterian Church at 2261 Walton Way. Seventy-five percent of the proceeds go to the AWP, and 25 percent to the church for its children’s ministries.
Registration begins at 8 a.m. on race day, or you may register in advance
by downloading a registration form from www.reidchurchaugusta.org. All ages are welcome to participate in this family-friendly event. The one-mile Fun Run is a great way to support this event on a low-impact level.
After the runs, join fellow runners for a light breakfast on the lawn of the church. The Fun Run starts at 9 a.m., and the 5K run/walk at 9:30 a.m. Can’t make it Saturday but still want to support this fine cause? Send a check made out to Reid Memorial Presbyterian Church and send it to 2261 Walton Way, Augusta, GA 30904.
I will be there and will participate in the one-mile event. I would love to have company.
(The writer – a retired U.S. Air Force major general – is the president of the board of trustees of the Augusta Museum of History. His email address is email@example.com.)