Academy Trustee Don Wukash (left) presents the painting “Wounded Warrior” to J.R. Martinez, an Iraq war veteran and the Academy’s 2009 Mildred “Babe” Didrikson Zacharias Courage Award recipient.
The United States Sports Academy is working with the U.S. military “Wounded Warrior” program, which aims to bring in military personnel, who are ill, wounded, and/or disabled from post-9/11 overseas combat duty, to participate in on-campus academic programs.
A delegation from the program will be visiting the Daphne campus Thursday, 2 September to discuss the Academy’s possible involvement. The group includes Col. David W. Sutherland, Director of Warrior & Family Programs for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, members of his staff, and Jack Lengyel, a special advisor to the program, who is a former Academy trustee and former athletic director for the U.S. Naval Academy.
A white paper titled “The Sea of Goodwill,” written by Sutherland and Major John W. Copeland, focuses on three key elements in helping veterans and their families reintegrate into civilian society: education, access to health care for life, and employment.
The Sea of Goodwill brings a holistic balance to the Wounded Warrior Program, commonly known as the “trinity.” These three key components are necessary to ensure service members and their families achieve a seamless transition back into civilian society.
“The potential of the Sea of Goodwill is not just the nation’s government, non-governmental agencies, benevolent organizations, and institutes of higher learning.” Sutherland and Copeland stated. “Its potential is in the heart of our nation’s communities – the citizens of those towns and cities. The aim of this Sea of Goodwill is matching donors with the needs of Service members, veterans, their families, and the families of the fallen.”
Academy President and CEO Dr. Thomas P. Rosandich said the key to the trinity’s balance is education. As Thomas Jefferson once said, “To penetrate and dissipate these clouds of darkness, the general mind must be strengthened by education. The mortar of a community is its schools. Institutions of higher learning link community, spiritual, business, social, and benevolent support to opportunities.”
Since many of these students will have disabilities, the Academy is working with members of the Daphne community and the rest of the Mobile Bay area to take care of their housing and transportation needs. It is estimated that 50 percent of all veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
“The Academy can take the lead in the area of education, with the help of other colleges and universities in Mobile Bay,” Dr. Rosandich said. “The program cannot be done without the support of the community at all levels.”