• Thursday, 24 January 2019

Warriors and Families Connect and Grow in Garden Paradise

NAPLES, Fla: Injured veterans and their families explored the beautiful, cultivated grounds of Naples Botanical Garden and its 150 acres of preservation lands with Wounded Warrior Project (WWP).

"We were looking for something to engage our toddler daughter's senses," said Marine Corps veteran Michael Finley. "We all enjoyed it. It was nice walking the grounds and being part of nature."

Warriors and their families explored the garden's seven distinct natural habitats, tropical flora, and ecosystems, which feature over 1,000 species.

The gathering provided an opportunity for warriors to make new friends and reconnect with old friends in a comfortable, family-oriented environment. Warriors also learned more about how WWP can support them and their families on their journeys to recovery.

"Since our daughter is so young, we mostly hung out in the kids' area," Michael said. "This was fine with us because everything was so captivating."

In a WWP survey (https://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/survey) of the warriors it serves, more than half of respondents (51.6 percent) expressed they talk with fellow veterans to address their mental health issues.

"I was very involved with Wounded Warrior Project events when I lived in the Chicago area," Michael said. "Since I moved to Florida a couple of months ago, I've already been able to share time with other warriors at two events."

Isolation is one of the most significant struggles warriors deal with after serving their country. It can be difficult knowing how to overcome that challenge and rekindle bonds similar to those formed in the military.

Connecting with fellow service members and people in the community minimizes isolation and creates a veteran support structure during the healing process - because wherever veterans are on their journeys, they shouldn't have to go it alone.