Group Helps Wounded Warriors Reconnect With Families

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 18, 2007 - The Wounded Warriors organization is striving to provide injured servicemembers and their families a way to regroup and reconnect, the organization's founder said.

Wounded Warriors is a member of America Supports You, the Defense Department program established in November 2004 to directly connect military members to the support of the America people and to offer a tool to the general public in their quest to find meaningful ways to support the military community.

"When America goes to war, the families go to war," John Folsom, founder of Wounded Warriors, said. "What Wounded Warriors seeks to do is to provide a sense of normalcy for these young families."

The organization accomplishes this by providing resort vacation opportunities to families with dependent children whose servicemember has been injured or killed in combat, said Folsom, who serves as a colonel in the Marine Corps Reserves. Wounded Warriors owns condominiums in Orlando, Fla., and Galveston, Texas, which it provides to qualified families free of charge for up to a week.

Free park passes for either Disney World or the combo of Universal Studios and Sea World are included with the lodging at the Bahama Bay Resort in Orlando. The lodging in the Victorian Resort and Conference Center in Galveston comes with a view of the Gulf of Mexico, which is conveniently located for Fort Hood families.

"They have to provide their own transportation," Folsom said. "Once we have a family that we've reserved (lodging) for, we give them points of contact for other groups who might help them out with transportation."

Families also are responsible for meals, but Folsom pointed out that all of the facilities are fully furnished and include a kitchen.

To extend Wounded Warriors' reach and ability to help families reconnect after a servicemember's recovery, Folsom said he's looking into purchasing a condo in Sandusky, Ohio, at an indoor water park. He's also considering purchasing another unit in Orlando to keep up with demand.

"We've got the retreat we'd like to build in northwestern Nebraska," Folsom said. "(It) would be, for lack of a better term, a 'dude ranch,' (to) give the kids a chance to come out and ride horses and be cowboys and cowgirls for a week."

Folsom started Wounded Warriors in March 2003 to provide laptops and other big-ticket items to military hospitals in Germany and throughout the United States. After being called to active duty and serving with medical personnel in Iraq, Folsom learned other groups were providing the same services.

"It morphed because I detest duplication of effort," he said. "Through my research (I) learned there was an unfilled need in supporting military families the way we're doing now.

"We can offer a family a chance to become 'normal' again," he added.

Guidelines for participating in the Wounded Warriors program and an application form are available on the organization's Web site.

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