This Tuesday, on the anniversary of the death of Osama bin Laden, President Barack Obama reiterated his commitment to remove 23,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of the summer and to honor a 2014 deadline to turn security back to the Afghanistan government.
Wounded Warrior Project supports all efforts to bring our troops home, and we're profoundly thankful for the service and sacrifices our armed service members have made since the attacks of September 11. We stand ready to assist them.
As we look to the future, much is still unknown. What we do know is that this war is far from over, and its startling effects will last well beyond the 2014 deadline.
As an organization, we'll be there for these service members and veterans. Our passionate team will remain at hospital bedsides and will meet this generation's ever-changing needs throughout their lifetime. We promise to support the long-term care of this and future generations of wounded veterans who raised and will raise their hands to protect this country in both peacetime and war.
I remember the first time I visited hospital bedsides at Walter Reed. Walking hospital room to hospital room, I remember a blur of young faces, too young for the injuries I was seeing. Amputated limbs, gunshot wounds, and disfiguring burns and scars. In each room I went to, I handed out a WWP backpack filled with comfort items and offered that Wounded Warrior Project would be there to support them through their recovery. As I spoke with the warriors, I heard several recurring themes.
"I need to get back to my unit; my guys need me."
"Am I going to be able to stay in the military?"
"I'm not that badly injured; you need to go see the guy in the next room."
"What is my life going to be like now?"
We know too well the significant roadblocks veterans face as they begin to build successful civilian careers and solidify family relationships. In addition to the thousands of physically wounded, there are staggering numbers of veterans living with post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury. We will continue to provide innovative, direct services to these Wounded Warriors and their families, and fight for public policy initiatives to provide them the benefits they deserve. Our goal is to ensure all wounded, injured and ill veterans thrive physically, mentally, and economically, which is why we take a holistic approach to their healing.
As these heroes come home, we must all recognize them as our neighbors, leaders in our communities, and role models to our children -- and we must never forget their sacrifices.