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July 29, 2014

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Members of Appalachian State University’s Army ROTC carry an American flag to a Blowing Rock Fire and Rescue fire truck, where it will be hoisted aloft. The event took place Saturday morning at Appalachian Ski Mountain. Photo by Rob Moore

Originally published: 2014-03-08 15:55:34
Last modified: 2014-03-08 15:56:20

Warriors gather

Some of the wounds are obvious.

A prosthetic limb or eye patch gives you an idea of the injury suffered in combat.

Other wounds are hidden. No one else can see the scars of war that lead to post-traumatic stress disorder.

Wounded Warrior is a program that helps veterans from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq return to their lives in America.

On Saturday, Wounded Warriors hosted its second annual skiing and snowboarding weekend at Appalachian Ski Mountain.

Thirty-six veterans, all alumni of Wounded Warriors, and members of their families traveled to the High Country and were treated to a free weekend of fun on the slopes, skiing and snowboarding instruction from members of French Swiss Ski College, catered food and free lodging.

“This is the second year we’ve done this at Appalachian Ski Mountain and we’re really pleased with the turnout,” said Joe Donadio, a member of Appalachian Ski Patrol who organized the event with Wounded Warriors representative Chris Uggiano of Fayetteville.

“We’ve got veterans here from North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. Over the past year, we’ve contacted sponsors around North Carolina and they have helped fund the event, from the food to the skiing to three nights’ worth of lodging for the veterans and their families.”

During the opening ceremonies for the Wounded Warriors event, a giant American flag was transported down the center slope of Appalachian Ski Mountain.

Members of French Swiss Ski College then handed it off to members of Appalachian State University’s Army ROTC program. They, in turn, walked it to the base of the slope where a Blowing Rock Fire and Rescue fire truck was waiting to hoist it into the air on a crane.

Bagpipe player Fox Kinsman performed “Amazing Grace” and other traditional tunes, the “Soldier’s Prayer” was recited and “The Star-Spangled Banner” was sung during the opening ceremonies.

Four flyers from Team Aerodynamics flew overhead at the end of the opening ceremonies.

Inside the ski lodge, Dr. Puja Wentworth of The Health Studio in Morrisville offered veterans and their families free massages and back alignments.

“Our motto today is, ‘Serving those who serve,’” Wentworth said.

Veterans were also treated to a catered barbecue lunch cooked and served by members of the Collettsville Fire Department.

Wounded Warrior Project

Wounded Warrior Project is a veteran service organization that offers a variety of programs, services and events for wounded veterans of the military actions following the events of Sept. 11, 2001.

It operates as a nonprofit organization with a mission to “honor and empower wounded warriors” of the United States armed forces, as well as provide services and programs for family members of its registered “alumni,” as its registered veterans are called.

WWP’s vision is to “foster the most successful, well-adjusted generation of wounded service members in our nation’s history,” as it works to raise awareness and enlist the public’s aid for the needs of the severely injured service men and women, to help severely injured service members aid and assist each other and to provide unique, direct programs and services to meet their needs.

As of Aug. 1, 2013, WWP had served 35,648 registered alumni and 4,181 registered members, defined as family or caregivers of registered alumni.

In 2012, WWP spent $114,817,090 on programs in support of wounded veterans, their families and their caregivers, while contributing nearly $5 million in grants to other charities, including the American Red Cross and Resounding Joy, a music therapy group in California, and also provided $880,000 to nearly 100 veterans in the form of college scholarships and stipends for its yearlong TRACK Program, which helps veterans transition to college from the workplace.

WWP has also provided funding to and partnered with Operation Homefront to “extend emergency financial assistance to military service members and veterans who incurred a physical or mental injury, illness or wound, which was not due to their own misconduct, co-incident to their military service on or after Sept. 11, 2001 and their families.”

This emergency assistance is in the form of cash grants paid to service providers to cover service members’ most basic of needs, including food, rent and utilities.

For more information and stories, see The Blowing Rocket.

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