By Kyle Malloy, For Navy Installations Command Public Affairs
WASHINGTON (NNS) – Wounded warriors and their families can overcome obstacles and achieve successes with the support of a community.
That message was evident during the 2017 Naval District Washington Family (NDW) Symposium, hosted by Commander, Navy Installations Command’s Navy Wounded Warrior (NWW) – Safe Harbor program at Naval Support Activity Bethesda Nov. 15-17.
“The great thing about the program is that you don’t have to go through it by yourself,” said NDW’s chief of staff Capt. Roy Undersander, who was a guest speaker at the event. “Navy Wounded Warrior, along with your families and caregivers, are here to help take care of you, bolster your resiliency and [help you to] become that success story in your community.”
The symposium -- which featured a panel of wounded warriors and caregivers -- served as an inviting platform for all program participants to engage in honest dialogue regarding their experiences, share best practices, and discuss how Navy Wounded Warrior has assisted them on their road to recovery.
“Depression and anxiety is something I deal with,” said Navy wounded warrior April Ziegler, who was one of the panelists. “NWW helped me learn different coping mechanisms and provided resources to assist with my recovery. Without this program, I wouldn’t have been able to accept my situation and work toward moving forward.”
Other symposium participants discussed the benefits of adaptive sports and reconditioning, which is one of the non-medical care support programs under Navy Wounded Warrior.
“Adaptive sports provided me an opportunity to be around other ill and injured service members, which has had a huge impact on my rehabilitation and recovery,” said Navy Chief Warrant Officer Christopher Deike, who was also one of the panelists. “It helped me see that I’m not alone and there are others going through it.”
The event’s keynote speaker and wounded warrior caregiver Aileen Kohl discussed her experiences as the primary caregiver to her husband, who suffered severe injuries resulting from a helicopter crash. She encouraged all caregivers to remember how important their own health is and to continue to keep it a top priority as they assist their loved ones through the healing process.
“When you talk about brain injuries and invisible wounds, there really is no ending point. I think the thing we need to realize is that these are lifelong injuries that we’re going to have to cope and live with,” said Kohl. “Ask yourself what it is that you can do to make your circumstances better.”
Navy Wounded Warrior ‒ Safe Harbor is the Navy's sole organization for coordinating the non-medical care of seriously wounded, ill and injured Sailors and Coast Guardsmen, and providing resources and support to their families. Through proactive leadership, the program provides individually-tailored assistance designed to optimize the success of the wounded warriors' recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration activities.
To learn more, visit www.navywoundedwarrior.com/.