Living After Sacrifice

Living After Sacrifice:
Honoring Heroes Who Gave Their Lives in Battle

By Dan Schnock – National Alumni Director,
Wounded Warrior Project

Memorial Day is a time for us to remember and express our deepest gratitude for the many soldiers who laid down their lives in service to our country. It’s a day that stands on shoulders of heroes. It pays witness to a timeless oath American warriors gave to defend this great nation at all costs – up to and including their lives.

At Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP), we honor all sacrifices made on the battlefield, and we stand ready to help those veterans who survive their injuries and come home to a new mission. It’s a mission just as important as their previous, requiring just as much dedication and endurance to achieve success: to find and live your most positive, fulfilling life.

I’m reminded of two brave warriors who lost much, but managed to find a new path forward. They survived combat injuries, and now the lives they live pay tribute to those before them – and serve as a testament to what “living after sacrifice” truly means.

They inspire us all.

It Takes a Community

These days, Dozer Reed’s attitude is very positive, but it hasn’t always been that way…

While serving as a National Guard medic in Iraq, a Humvee accident launched Dozer into the vehicle’s roof. His neck and back buckled from the impact. For the next five months, Dozer tried to maintain routine missions, but the days were filled with excruciating pain.

His body could take no more.

Six surgeries later, Dozer was medically retired. Soon after, his marriage fell apart. When Dozer shares his story, he says those were the darkest days of his life.

But that wasn’t the end of his journey. He still had a mission, and Wounded Warrior Project was there to help his path forward.

It’s still inspiring to me to see how camaraderie and peer support play such a significant role in healing – both mentally and physically.

It’s still inspiring to me to see how camaraderie and peer support play such a significant role in healing – both mentally and physically.

That’s why our connection events are so popular. They help warriors like Dozer step out of isolation and connect with warriors and their communities.

And that’s exactly what happened.

At a WWP event, Dozer met a fellow servicemember who also served in the Louisiana National Guard. That’s how the bond started. Sharing similar experiences continued to strengthen their friendship until the two warriors became like family, supporting and encouraging each other in life and recovery.

Now, Dozer’s prevailing sense of honor and need to help others has expanded. As a WWP peer mentor, he leads by example and shares his story in hopes to inspire warriors and supporters. After all, it’s his belief that it takes an entire community – from family and friends to organizations like WWP – to heal a warrior.

Living the Logo

Jack Frawley is one of more than 500,000 warriors who live with the invisible wounds of post-9/11 combat operations.

Honor. Courage. Commitment. Jack was a Marine – through and through. Which also meant he was held to higher standards. He was expected to be tougher. More mentally fit.

But Jack’s memories of combat were vivid.

While clearing a rooftop – the same location where an improvised explosive device (IED) detonated just days before – Jack noticed paint cans and debris. The cans were open, but the building hadn’t been painted in years. He told me he clutched his rifle as he ascended the roof, mumbling “please don’t blow up.”

When Jack returned home, he tried to drink all his memories away. The heavy combat. The buddies who were injured and flown to hospitals so quickly there was no time to grieve. The casualties. The two friends he lost in an IED attack.

Jack spent most of his time hiding from friends and family as he tried to escape from the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Jack, like many wounded warriors, felt alone. But he wasn’t. WWP connected him to a community of fellow combat veterans who understood what he faced daily. While his family and friends loved and supported him, it was his service brothers and sisters who could relate to his feelings of helplessness and vulnerability after combat.

Today, Jack does everything he can to help fellow injured veterans learn better coping skills – to avoid self-medication and self-destruction. He’s living proof that PTSD can be managed. His strength and recovery have allowed him to transition from the warrior who was once being carried to the warrior who now carries others. At WWP, we call that “living the logo.” For warriors, the logo is an undeniable symbol that reminds them of their resilience – and their passion for continued service.

The Path Forward

When the first wounded returned home from the current military conflicts, our founders were inspired to help, and for the past 15 years, we have been dedicated in our mission to honor and empower Wounded Warriors.

Our organization was established on the principle of one warrior helping another – just look at our logo.

And while not everyone can serve, everyone can support brave warriors like Dozer and Jack, who were willing to sacrifice, but now live with physical and mental wounds of war.

Once these warriors are carried off the battlefield, it is our responsibility to carry them the rest of the way home, ensuring they accomplish every success they desire and deserve in life. That’s the best way to honor heroes who gave their lives in battle – to support those who made it home and help them live their best lives.

We are here to help.

About Wounded Warrior Project
We Connect, Serve, and Empower

The mission of Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) is to honor and empower Wounded Warriors. WWP connects wounded warriors and their families to valuable resources and one another, serves them through a variety of free programs and services, and empowers them to live life on their own terms.

WWP is a national, nonpartisan organization headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida. WWP is an accredited charity with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), is top rated by Charity Navigator, and holds a GuideStar Platinum rating. To get involved and learn more, visit (Photos courtesy WWP)

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