A Letter to America on Behalf of This Generation’s Wounded Warriors

As a Wounded Warrior living with the effects of combat stress, survivor’s guilt, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), I know all too well the impact that recent events can have on my own well-being. As the Alumni Director at Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) I have been reaching out to the thousands of injured service members who are registered with us. Now I’d like to talk to the American people and my fellow brothers and sisters who honorably served our country after 9-11.

Thousands of returning wounded servicemen and women struggle every day with the symptoms of combat stress, survivors’ guilt, or PTSD and we are not “crazy” for the challenges we struggle with. We are Wounded Warriors who are experiencing a natural reaction to the unnatural situations we faced while serving our country. We live our lives productively, striving to make each day better than the one before it. Some days are good, some days are not, but each day we carry on. Many of us seek professional counseling or care. We reach out, one to one, to assist our fellow brothers and sisters with these same challenges and in doing so we often heal ourselves.

These struggles are not unique to this generation of injured service members. We hope those who have gone before us continue to heal and have gotten the help they need from the organizations that were established to assist them.

To my fellow Wounded Warriors of recent conflicts, remember that should you need it there are organizations, WWP and others, that stand ready to help with those tougher times. All you need to do is ask. Asking is not weakness. It is a sign of strength. And understanding that the very real psychological wounds we are dealing with can be just as debilitating as physical ones, if not more so, is essential to recovery.

In the days ahead it is likely we will continue to hear reporting on PTSD and returning war veterans. Some of that reporting may be accurate, but some of it will generalize and globalize the struggles of one or two warriors as indicative of every returning veteran. There are a lot of myths out there about PTSD and we know each of us bears our own wounds, our own struggles, and our own recoveries. Please know support is available to help you heal.

WWP serves veterans and service members who incurred a physical or mental injury, illness, or wound, co-incident to their military service on or after September 11, 2001. If you are a registered WWP Alumni stay in close contact with us and utilize our 18 programs and services.

If you are new to WWP, our Resource Center is your first stop for assistance. Contact us at: resourcecenter@woundedwarriorproject.org; 888.WWP.ALUM (888.997.2586) or 904.405.1213. The hours of operation are Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. EST.

If you find yourself in crisis please contact the Veterans Crisis Line at 800.273.8255 and press 1 for immediate counseling.

We exist to serve our country’s injured service members and remember those injuries come in many forms. We are here for you.

Ryan Kules

Alumni Director - Wounded Warrior Project