Posted by: arbeam | March 21, 2014

Wounded Warriors working in Kitsap County

Wounded WarriorprojectThe Wounded Warriors Project has been around for a decade. In that time, word has spread about the work that is being done by the project, to help Post 9/11 veterans with services from the Veterans Administration, counseling on re-adjusting to life after war and employment, giving wounded veterans a safe place to talk and offering veterans recreational opportunities.

With a Wounded Warriors Project office in Seattle, veterans in Kitsap County have had access to help. But since last month, there’s a core group of people hoping to get more help for Wounded Warriors right here in Kitsap County.

An informational meeting in Poulsbo last month drew more than 50 people who wanted to know more. Officials of the Wounded Warriors Project in Seattle came and shared what services are available from the Wounded Warriors Project, said Dona Keating, a resident of Bainbridge Island who is active in a number of organizations in Kitsap County. “Our idea was to bring about an opportunity for the Wounded Warriors Project to share what they do with anyone in Kitsap County that has an interest in services for veterans,” said Keating. “We want post 9/11 veterans to know where to go to get the answers they need.”

To reach out to veterans in Kitsap County, a Facebook page has been created under the name of Kitsap Wounded Warriors. Keating said veterans can go to the page and meet other veterans in Kitsap County and find out how to get services via Wounded Warriors.

Among those who have taken a leadership role since the meeting is Jeremy Creed of Port Orchard. A veteran himself, he’s listed as an alumni, which is what those who work with Wounded Warriors and who have been in the service call themselves. Creed, whose wife owns Amy’s on the Bay restaurant in Port Orchard, is front and center and has offered to help any Post 9/11 veterans find out more about Wounded Warriors and how the project can help.

While Wounded Warriors aims at helping veterans who have served in Desert Storm and Desert Shield, any veteran needing help, will be helped, said Michael Kiser, a senior benefits liaison with the Wounded Warriors Project office in Seattle.

Kiser lives in Kingston and spoke at the Poulsbo meeting. He spends at least one day a week working in Bremerton to bring services to Kitsap veterans. His specific work is to help veterans get through the paperwork to get benefits from the Veterans Administration, the Department of Defense and Social Security.
In all, there are 19 different programs offered by the Wounded Warriors project. Besides getting services from government offices, the project gives veterans counseling on post dramatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental and physical health needs, helps them ready themselves for job interviews and gives them job leads.

But it’s not all business. Many times, the Wounded Warriors is a place where veterans with like interests find others to do things with. “We’ve had activities like hiking and climbing and we’ve taken groups to the indoor sky-diving center in Issaquah,” said Kiser. “We’ve gone to ball games together and we’ve offers other ways that alumni can just share time and have fun together.”

If there is enough interest, Kitsap Wounded Warriors may bring events such as athletic competitions to Kitsap County, Keating said. “Warrior Games,” as they are called, are held throughout the nation. Among the most common need is working through the worst of PTSD. “PTSD is there almost always with veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said. “Alumni often help each other deal with the memories.”
Keating said for many of the wounded, especially those who have lost limbs an those who suffer with PTSD, just having someone who has been in war and who understands what they’ve been through is all that is needed. “Just to have someone to talk to, for some, that’s all they need,” she said.

Wounded Warriors also has programs to help homeless veterans get a place to stay, paying rent and utilities for vets and cash grants for food. Nationwide, in 2012, more than $114 million was spent helping veterans.
While no numbers are available as to how manywounded warriors currently are living in Kitsap County, Kiser said there’s more than 38,954 alumni nationwide. According to VA data, there are 607,000 veterans in Washington.

While there has been some criticism of the Wounded Warriors Project in recent years, about the salaries paid to the program’s executives, both Keating and Kiser feel certain that the organization is well run. Keating said prior to getting involved with the project, she did her due-diligence and studied it. “According to many of the listings on various charity websites such as Charity Navigator, Wounded Warriors has high marks,” she said. “Every person who is considering this group should check that out and determine for themselves if they want to be a part of it.”

Anyone wanting to reach out to Kitsap Wounded Warriors should go to its Facebook page. To reach Kiser, email The Seattle office is at 2223 Alaskan Way, Ste 220, Seattle, or call 206-441-7096.

By Leslie Kelly for Kitsap Veterans Life



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