By Heidi Hansen
LOGAN—If you’ve ever said, “I support the troops,” you can put action behind those words this Saturday by participating in the “Run for the Wounded Warriors” 5k race hosted by the USU Army ROTC at the HYPER 5k course on campus.
“Participate to support soldiers who have served and have sacrificed their physical and mental well-being to provide the United States with security,” said ROTC fundraising officer Kevin Moultrie, “and to support soldiers preparing to become future leaders of our great combat forces.”
Participants can pay $15 to pre-register online or $20 the day of the run, with all proceeds going to support the Wounded Warrior Project and the USU Army ROTC. What organizer Moultrie hopes will be the first of many Wounded Warriors 5k’s starts at 10 a.m. sharp.
“This really is a great cause,” said Moultrie, a senior studying political science and military science. “The Wounded Warrior Project helps wounded veterans from the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars reintegrate” into civilian society after they are discharged.
“Their focus is on helping the body and mind and on economic empowerment and engagement for returning injured soldiers.”
Nearly 42,000 U.S. soldiers have returned home wounded and struggling to cope with their new reality as they reenter society and try to take up their lives again.
“With advancements in battlefield medicine and body armor, an unprecedented percentage of service members are surviving severe wounds or injuries,” says the Wounded Warrior Project website.
“The Wounded Warrior Project believes the greatest casualty is being forgotten,” said Project Executive Director Steve Nardizzi. “Many of this generation of wounded bravely joined our nation’s armed forces shortly after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, so we are grateful to USU for continuing to recognize their commitment and sacrifice for this country.”
Some contend that the U.S. government has had trouble keeping up with the returning wounded vets from Iraq and Afghanistan, which is the longest running war in U.S. history, and started 10 years ago this week.
The Washington Post’s Dana Priest and Anne Hull reported in 2007 that the venerable Walter Reed Army Medical Center was overwhelmed by the number of soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with often horrifying physical and psychological injuries, with many such patients receiving substandard care and living in poor conditions.
Priest and Hull’s reporting won the Pulitzer Prize for public service in 2008. Walter Reed Hospital, long the nation’s primary military medical facility, closed its doors in August.
While Walter Reed and other military medical centers and the Bureau for Veterans Affairs have all been furiously trying to catch up in treatment of wounded veterans, and much has improved since 2007, it helps that organizations like the Wounded Warrior Project are there to fill in service gaps for injured soldiers.
“Really, we have a personal interest in the success of the Wounded Warriors Project, because as the soldiers creed says, we all stand ready to deploy,” Moultrie said. “One consequence, or result of that, is that we might get hurt.”
With 70 people already registered by Wednesday, Moultrie said he expects to see at least 100 participate on Saturday. Competing by age and gender, winners will get prizes provided by 15 local sponsors.
For more information on participating in the Wounded Warriors Run, see the website.