Troop strength has just increased exponentially in the battle to help veterans ease back into civilian life.
All thanks to the homegrown Augusta Warrior Project and the support of this community, which might be unsurpassed in its patriotism.
The national Wounded Warrior Project – a completely separate organization – has chosen the Augusta Warrior Project to head up a national effort to help veterans transition to their new lives after serving us all.
The Augusta Warrior Project began as a mission to expand local services for wounded troops, primarily at the innovative and unique Active-Duty Rehabilitation Unit at the VA hospital here. That alone was a national model that has repeatedly earned attention and admiration at the highest levels of the Pentagon.
But since then, the AWP mission has expanded to provide all manner of services and support for all area veterans, wounded or not. AWP has helped gather up existing services from various entities, government and private, and has inspired new ones.
Its focus over the past year or so to find and help veterans who are – scandalously – homeless has paid off big-time: AWP has helped nearly 100 homeless veterans get housing, 170 get jobs and over 550 get into school.
It wasn’t long until that comprehensive mission expanded to other cities; Charlotte, Dallas and Birmingham replicated AWP’s successful program.
Now, as a partner of the Wounded Warrior Project, Augusta Warrior Project’s fabulous program will be a truly national model for helping veterans.
The entire Augusta area should be so very proud. It was this community’s faith, volunteerism, contributions and encouragement that gave birth to the Augusta Warrior Project and nurtured it into the All-American it has become.
In particular, congratulations must flow to former television anchorwoman Laurie Ott, who was inspired to leave a comfortable job and promising career to create the Augusta Warrior Project after meeting an inspiring wounded warrior; former Congressman Doug Barnard; and current Executive Director Jim Lorraine, who has been awake more than Ted Cruz while working tirelessly to help his fellow veterans.
These folks have greatly enhanced the lives of hundreds of local veterans. They’ve helped with basic needs, such as food and shelter, and with giving veterans an orientation to, and a nudge toward, the future, through such things as higher education.
There is no doubt in any observer’s mind that these community – and now national – leaders have saved lives. No doubt whatsoever.
Now they can take that life-saving show on the road.
“The collaboration with Augusta Warrior Project allows us to extend our programs’ reach in underserved communities, build community support for warriors transitioning from military to civilian life, and empower other nonprofits to increase the services that are available to injured service members,” says Charlie Abell, executive vice president at the national Wounded Warrior Project.
And the Augusta Warrior Project will remain its beautiful self.
“Our collaboration with WWP,” Lorraine says, “will allow us to expand our services locally, while at the same time, standing up similar organizations in other communities.”
While standing proud ourselves.