Church Mutual comes through for wounded warriors
Church Mutual Insurance Company employees heard last Friday how money they raised is benefitting U.S. veterans wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan. Church Mutual recently made a $16,000 donation to the Wounded Warrior Project, an organization dedicated to supporting a new generation of injured American veterans.
The donation from Church Mutual was initiated by company president Rich Poirier, himself a military veteran.
“He felt we could make a strong impact on the Wounded Warrior Project,” said Church Mutual CEO Mike Ravn.
Poirier put out a challenge to Church Mutual employees companywide; if they could raise $2,500, he would wear his old military dress blues to work.
Over the course of five days in March, Church Mutual employees far surpassed that goal, raising $8,000 which was matched by the company.
“We were hoping to hand them a $5,000 check,” Ravn said, “but it turned out to be a $16,000 check.”
Last Friday, WWP spokesperson Cindy Parsons told her story as the caregiver of a wounded soldier and explained the difference WWP has made in her own life and the lives of others.
Cindy’s son, Shane, was critically injured in 2006 when the Humvee he was riding it was hit by an improvised explosive device near Rhamadi, Iraq. As a result of the explosion, Shane lost both his legs, suffered a severe anoxic brain injury and two cardiac arrests.
While substantial, Shane’s physical injuries have been outweighed in the long term by the traumatic brain injury he suffered.
“He will have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, anxiety, depression and cognitive deficiencies for life,” Cindy said.
After Shane returned to the U.S. for treatment, Cindy became a strong advocate for wounded warriors. She participated in the Wounded Warrior Project Caregiver Summit in Washington, DC in 2009 where she lobbied Congress for the passage of the “Caregiver and Veteran Omnibus Health Service Act of 2010.” This bill will provide assistance and support for the people who give care to injured servicemen and women returning from war.
Cindy is currently serving on the board of the Brain Injury Association of Ohio, and both she and Shane have participated in speaking events concerning traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) across the country.
Because of her experiences, Cindy has become passionate about promoting public awareness of our wounded warriors returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Cindy has been part of the Warriors Speak program for almost four years.
“It ignited something in me,” she said. “I am so blessed. I am so passionate about what I do. I live it every day.”
The Wounded Warrior Project has served over 71,000 veterans and 11,000 caregivers. They regularly survey the soldiers they serve to determine whether their needs are being met.
“The survey shows what warriors are struggling with and what they need,” Cindy said.
The Wounded Warrior Project provides 20 different programs for wounded veterans, including the Independence Program, which has been so vital to Shane’s ongoing recovery. Cindy also gets peace of mind from the Long Term Support program that ensures Shane will be taken care of should something happen to Cindy. Many wounded veterans would otherwise face institutionalization upon the death of their caregiver.
“Without the Wounded Warrior Project, I would be terrified,” Cindy said. “I don’t think my son would be where he is today, and I don’t know where I would be.”
The most rewarding part of her work with the Wounded Warrior Project is reaching out to people who are struggling like she once did.
“Every time I do this (presentation) there’s somebody in the audience that needs help,” she said. “I can connect with them.”
That connection may even save a life, Cindy added. Statistics show that every day 22 veterans in the US take their own lives.
“In 2012, we had more veterans take their own lives than were killed in Afghanistan,” she said.
Ravn said Church Mutual plans to make the Wounded Warrior Project fund raising an annual event.