Injured veterans and their loved ones tapped into their inner Clark Griswold by joining Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) at Pine Tree Barn to pick out, cut down, and take home their own Christmas trees, as well as visit with Santa.
With saw in hand, Army veteran Michael Thomas and his family zeroed in on their perfect tree. “This was our first experience with cutting our own Christmas tree,” Michael said. “It was really exciting and new.”
Michael’s eight-year-old daughter, Imani, said her favorite part of the event was “when Daddy cut down the tree.” She is looking forward to decorating the tree, as well as seeing presents under it.
“I’m just getting into networking with other veterans,” Michael said. “It’s kind of new to me — being able to see other people like me. Connecting with them in person did make me nervous because of my post-traumatic stress, and I’m not used to being around so many people. But now, we’re enjoying it, and I’m looking forward to other events with other veterans.”
Isolation is one of the most significant struggles wounded warriors deal with after serving their country. It can be difficult knowing how to overcome that challenge and rekindle bonds like those formed in the military.
Barry Pettit, an Army Reserve veteran, feels most WWP events are not only fun for families, but are great opportunities to connect and empower veterans. “It’s nice to be able to be a part of events like this because you get to see people and friends you haven’t seen since the last event.”
“My kids picked our tree quickly because it was very cold,” Barry said. “My highlight of the night was seeing the smiles on my kids’ faces.”
Thanks to generous donors, WWP is able to serve warriors by connecting them with one another and their communities. Programs also focus on mental and physical health and wellness, financial wellness, independence, government relations, and community relations and partnerships.