While we enjoy good fellowship and the natural beauty of Pine Knoll Shores, our service men and women across the globe willingly make unimaginable sacrifices to protect our country and our freedom. In late May and early June 2017, we will celebrate their dedication and pledge that their needs will not be forgotten.
“The mission of Hope For The Warriors® is to enhance quality of life for US Service Members and their families nationwide who have been adversely affected by injuries or death in the line of duty. Hope For The Warriors® actively seeks to ensure that the sacrifices of wounded and fallen warriors and their families are never forgotten nor their needs unmet, particularly with regard to the short and long-term care of the severely injured.”
Hope For The Warriors® is a civilian organization, with 501(c)(3) non-profit status. It is not a government agency and is solely supported by the generosity of individuals, corporations and foundations in support and appreciation of those who have sacrificed in the name of freedom. Federal Tax ID #20-5182295.
On December 12, 2012, town manager, Brian Kramer (USMC ret) took several of the town’s staff and several Kayak for the Warriors volunteers to visit the newly built Wounded Warrior Barracks on Camp LeJeune.
Today Brian writes: Pine Knoll Shores and friends of people connected to Pine Knoll Shores have been supporting Hope For The Warriors® (H4W) now since 2008. It is a great organization, and I witnessed it grow from its infancy.
It had its roots right down the road at Camp LeJeune. Wounded men and women were coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan and staying in their empty barracks: their buddies and their leaders were still deployed. The Commanding General (CG) recognized this as a problem. How to get them to medical appointments, how to manage meds, how to ensure the rehab is accomplished properly, and perhaps most importantly, how to make them still feel like Marines and part of a cohesive unit. All of this was a major problem starting in about 2003. Another catalyst was a visit from one Marine to the same CG. He was a LtCol who was severely injured in Afghanistan. He returned to the US, and he and his spouse started to negotiate the medical and support system to address his needs. They found this task so daunting that this officer approached the CG and said, in so many words, “I’m a LtCol and I can’t figure this stuff out, how is a Lance Corporal supposed to do it?” I personally knew him. He is a great man.
From this grew the Wounded Warrior Barracks at Camp Lejeune, where the injured men and women were together, supervised, and rehabbed. The Marines now had a means to get to medical appointments, had Docs supervising their rehab, and a Gunny to make them shave and occasionally kick them in their rear end. The Secretary of Defense was impressed enough that he visited Lejeune and said that everyone else needs to do this. Today, the Marine Corps and the Army now have actual flagged units for wounded servicemen/women.
Also from this grew H4W, which started out as a group of Navy, Marine, and Coast Guard spouses, all volunteers and almost all of whom did not have a wounded spouse but had husbands on active duty. One of the first things they did was organize a simple foot race on board Lejeune. I attended this very first event. It was smaller in scope and scale than our present Kayak Race here in PKS. They starting doing more and more, and today Hope For The Warriors® is a national organization that does simply incredible things for the combat injured. And they don’t forget these guys/gals when they leave active duty. Last year I attended a H4W dinner. Many wounded vets from Iraq and Afghanistan were there. I noticed that many were not youngsters anymore. Some had beards, some had lost their 30-inch waist, and others had other signs of approaching middle age. But they were still in wheel chairs, still using canes, and still wearing their prosthetics.
I think PKS will continue to support H4W so we can say that we are the generation that took care of these guys/gals for the long haul. We want these people to go back home, go to school, get married, have kids, and be a productive part of society. In my mind, H4W is a natural extension of what I saw started ten years ago with a handful of wounded kids who we moved into a barracks so they could still feel like Marines. Today H4W wants these vets and their families to still feel like they are part of everyday America.
When any of us donate to charity we always want to know if the funds are being used for what we think they are. One of the ways we can do this is by analyzing our charities through a well-established charity evaluation group. Visit Charity Navigator or GreatNonprofits to see how H4W fares. You’ll find H4W is an absolutely first-class organization, consistently applying over 90% of their received funds to meet mission.
From left: Brian Kramer, Sarah Williams, Natalie Gibble, Judi Matzke, Bud Pitzer, Julie Anderson and Gary Watkins (Dec 12, 2012 ,Officers Club, Camp LeJeune )