Wounded Vets Connect With Resources

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 13, 2008 - Wounded servicemembers have a helping hand available when it comes to transitioning back into their communities.

The VetConnect program is designed to "provide wounded warriors with a critical link to resources ... and to engage local community and business leaders in the reorientation of disabled veterans to their communities," Scott Heintz, the program's director, said.

The program is run by "Enable America," a non-profit group dedicated to increasing employment opportunities for Americans with disabilities.

VetConnect also offers early intervention support by matching wounded warriors with casualty mentors and coordinating their participation in wellness activities, he said. This program has been expanded to wounded special operations troops through the Care Coalition Recovery Pilot Program. The program, similar to VetConnect's mentoring program, was developed and implemented with the help of U.S. Special Operations Command.

"The objective of the pilot program is to improve the recovery outcome of special operations forces wounded warriors through the early introduction of casualty mentors and wellness activities designed to boost wounded warriors' confidence and self-esteem," Heintz said.

The mentors, wounded warriors themselves, are matched with a newly wounded warrior and trained to provide support and guidance throughout and beyond the recovery process. The matches are made based on similarity of injures, unit affiliations and family situations.

"Mentors offer valuable insight and counsel from the perspective of someone who has successfully navigated similar physical and emotional challenges," Heintz said. "Spouses and family members of wounded (special operations force members) also serve as mentors and provide guidance to their counterparts."

When servicemembers and their family members are ready to try Enable America's wellness activities, the organization will help them find the right one. All of the activities -- camping, skiing, yoga and photography, to name a few -- are offered through organizations that are able to accommodate the participant's needs.

"As their recovery progresses, Enable America provides wounded warriors and their families with access to a comprehensive network of community and employment resources," Heintz said. "The final component of the program is that of providing the wounded warrior with an employment resource network that will (offer) them meaningful and challenging work that is commensurate with their unique skill sets."

Enable America recently became a supporter of America Supports You, a Defense Department program connecting citizens and companies with servicemembers and their families serving and home and abroad.

"(America Supports You) provides us with the opportunity to network with other supporting organizations as well as to increase our exposure to those who would benefit from our services," Heintz said.

*Related Sites:*
Enable America  [ ]
Wounded Vets Connect With Resources [ ]