Once a week, for 52 weeks this year, OpsLens will post a card highlighting Post 9/11 Frontline Leaders. And, yes, this is a spinoff from the 2003 Deck of Most Wanted Playing Cards! This time around, we are talking about, honoring, and bringing awareness to post 9/11 businesses or charities launched by the military community.
You’ll learn the top facts about these organizations, as well as why they made the list, which comes down to impact, scalability, health and unique value proposition. We encourage you to look for these weekly updates, share the card with your network, and support or buy the products and services they offer. See the 52 Most Wanted Post 9/11 Frontline Leaders launch story here.
Jack of Clubs | Wounded Warrior Project
Every generation has had brave men and women answer the call for military service—they have fought, they have been the frontlines—and some have returned home injured. For seventeen years, the post 9/11 generation of service members have continued to fight in the nation’s longest war. And although the nation has not had a nightly news reminder of a “living room war,” they have most certainly seen a television commercial raising funds and awareness to honor and empower wounded warriors.
In 2003, one of the post 9/11 generation’s most iconic charities was launched by a group of veterans and friends, most notably brothers Jim and John Melia. The Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) has been on a mission ever since to honor and empower America’s wounded veterans, and to date, more than half a million warriors and their families have found support through the free WWP programs and advocacy efforts.
One would be remiss to not mention the story of this charity has had its share of stumbles, too, over the past 15 years. Yet, more importantly, it has been a sincere vessel of support that has helped carry wounded warriors and their families forward. After a major reshuffling of leadership (bringing on LTG Mike Linnington, USA (Ret.) as CEO) and organizational goals (such as their recent 5-year $160MM commitment to mental health care for veterans), WWP has turned the corner and stands on higher ground. (The Better Business Bureau cleared WWP of claims of lavish spending in 2017.)
Today, WWP focuses on providing free mental and physical health and wellness, as well as economic empowerment programs to more than 122,000 wounded warriors and 31,000 family members and caregivers free of charge—with more than 1,500 additional veterans signing up every month for programs and services. Check out their numbers yourself. WWP is projected to spend nearly $200M on programs in 2019. And note the board of directors (which has oversight of this nonprofit) is stronger, more reputable and diverse than it’s ever been.
WWP has also reestablished a presence in Washington DC with their Government and Community Relations office led by former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Rene Bardorf. In 2018, WWP advocated on 70 pieces of legislation that impact the lives of more than 20 million veterans in the US. Additionally, WWP has been quietly doing “venture philanthropy” by investing millions of dollars in other military and veteran service organizations through a series of collaborative grants to groups like Team Rubicon, the Travis Manion Foundation, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the Elizabeth Dole Foundation.
Wounded Warrior Project is a frontline leader that should be on your list of most-wanted charities to support in 2018.
Frontline Leader (Founders): Brothers John and Jim Melia.
Name of Company/Organization: Wounded Warrior Project, founded 2003.
Location: HQ is Jacksonville, Florida.
Post 9/11 Service Connection: U.S. Marine Corps (John), U.S. Army (Jim).
Tours of Duty: John was severely wounded in a helicopter crash in 1992 off the coast of Somalia. This was the impetus for the Melia Family to create this charity when they saw wounded post 9/11 service members returning home from war.
One sentence tagline &/or mission statement: The mission of Wounded Warrior Project is to honor and empower wounded warriors. Carry Forward. The greatest casualty is being forgotten.
“Wounded Warrior Project has been transforming the way America’s injured veterans are empowered, employed, and engaged in our communities since our inception. Our programs and services in mental health, career counseling, and long-term rehabilitative care are changing and saving lives. And the warriors and family members we serve never pay a penny for our programs—because they have already paid their dues in service to our great nation—much of it in difficult conditions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and countless other locations around the world.” —Wounded Warrior Project CEO LTG Mike Linnington, USA (Ret.)