Winston Churchill once said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” SSG (ret) Joe Gross took those words to heart after losing the lower part of his right leg to a suicide bomber in Iraq in 2005. From applying his own tourniquet and laying down suppressive fire to protect his comrades who pulled him to safety (earning him the bronze star), to becoming an advocate for those who have experienced life-altering injuries during combat, Joe decided to keep going.
After arriving at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, a member of the Wounded Warrior Project came to visit Joe - a former Army ranger who’d lost an arm during combat and who told him that he could surmount this challenge. It was only then did he realize that he could go on – that he could live a full life despite the loss of a limb.
Now a representative of the Wounded Warrior Project, a non-profit organization formed to honor and empower wounded warriors, Joe talks to vets that have sustained serious injuries and puts them in touch with staff of WWP to help them deal with the aftermath - from emotional support and peer mentoring, to benefits counseling, to rehabilitation and more.
Joe is dedicated to providing that support to fellow vets and he does this by raising money for the organization through many fundraisers, including an annual golf outing held at a course owned by the family of Tribute’s sales and marketing coordinator, Nina Baker.
Tribute was proud to be one of the sponsors of this tournament which raised over $9,000 for the WWP and increased awareness in the community of all the organization does to help vets and their families.
Wounded Warrior Project offers a host of programs to help our wounded vets: Project Odyssey – giving all warriors (with visible and invisible wounds) a safe place to talk about the issues of combat stress; TRACK - an integrated approach to address long-term needs for education and training; Transition Training Academy - provides vets Information Technology (IT) training; Warriors to Work – helps vets connect with the civilian workforce; Wounded Warrior Disabled Sports Project (WWDSP); WWP Outreach; WWP Peer Mentors – a positive influence through their friendship and understanding of a fellow wounded warrior during a wounded warrior's initial recovery; WWP Soldier Ride - a rehabilitative cycling program for wounded warriors.
Recognizing that the impact of an injury affects more than just the veteran, WWP initiated Caregiver Retreats in 2008 to support the devoted group of spouses, parents and other family members who are helping their wounded loved ones face a range of physical and mental challenges.
The WWP is also very active in advocacy efforts on behalf of veterans. Enactment of the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010, a national program to train and provide ongoing support and a modest allowance to family caregivers of our most severely wounded warriors, has been the highest legislative priority for the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP), which worked with Congress for more than a year to win its passage.
It would have been easy for Joe Gross to be bitter about what happened to him. To hole up and wallow in his grief. But after months of rehab and dealing with combat stress, he knew the best way to come to terms with his injuries was to help his comrades in arms. Through his association with WWP, he is giving back to those who need it most – his fellow vets.
Cleveland is at the forefront of innovative technology to help our wounded vets – read this article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer featuring Joe Gross and the medical advances coming out of the war.(Pictured above: Brian Vair, Kurt, Adam Poppenhouse & Joe Gross)