Denise McCarson lost more than 60 pounds in just over four years. As an Army veteran who served in Operation Enduring Freedom, she manages several service-connected injuries, including a traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress, and chronic back and neck pain. In 2014, Denise joined Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) with hopes to regain an active lifestyle. The decision changed the course of her life.
“If it weren’t for Wounded Warrior Project’s physical health and wellness programs, I’d probably still be at home,” Denise said.
Since her involvement with WWP, Denise has also significantly increased mobility in her neck and upper back. It was one of her biggest achievements, allowing her to grow a larger list of activities she can enjoy. She has since participated in many WWP activities over the years, including yoga and hiking. Recently, Denise even joined other veterans at a wheelchair lacrosse clinic.
She enjoys meeting other wounded warriors – like Marine veteran Alan Casanova. Alan attended the wheelchair lacrosse clinic to experience something different and connect with other veterans.
“I meet new warriors at every Wounded Warrior Project event I attend,” Alan said. “I keep going to events because it helps me get out of the house, work on past trauma, and meet veterans I can relate to.”
Denise agrees that connecting with other warriors rekindles the unique bonds among servicemembers. It’s also vital to their healing process. “If anyone falls behind, we give them a chance to catch up, and are right there to support them.”
In addition to staying in shape through WWP’s programs, Denise and Alan have found a new mission: becoming powerful examples of warriors supporting each other and “living the WWP logo” – one warrior carrying another in a time of need.
Physical activity through adaptive sports is gaining popularity among injured veterans. In a WWP survey of the wounded warriors it serves, 32.6% of survey respondents expressed physical activity is one of the things that helps them cope with stress and emotional concerns.