To the men and women in the military, the word means sacrifice. It means putting their lives at risk if necessary to protect others from tyranny, and to defend the liberties we all cherish. And sometimes they pay dearly for their service.

Communities that have been insulated from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the global fight against terrorism want to help those who have suffered catastrophic injuries while serving, but they often struggle with solutions.   And despite the millions of dollars being spent on veteran issues by the federal government, the statistics just keep getting worse.   

One organization, however, is bucking the trends.

A helping hand 

The Wyakin Warrior Foundation was founded in 2010, specifically designed to help servicemen and women with devastating injuries – those with life-changing wounds who face the toughest challenges ahead – complete an education, begin new careers, and eventually become leaders in their communities.

“Warriors are able to share experiences and commiserate with each other in ways no one else could understand.”

Now in its third year, the retention, graduation, and employment of its student veterans remain at 100 percent.   Known for its “high touch” trademark, the foundation has been endorsed by the USO as “best in class” in the country for its work.  As word spreads around the nation, the number of veterans applying for the program continues to grow. 

“We feel strongly that the Wyakin Warriors will one day be leaders in business and in their communities.  There is no limit to what these young men and women can achieve in life,” said Jeff Bacon, president and co-founder of the foundation.

Supporting our soldiers 

Wyakin is a Native American term meaning Guardian Spirit, and the organization takes its name to heart.  The all-inclusive program – one of the most comprehensive of its kind in the country – provides a long list of services to its Wyakin Warriors, including a multi-layered mentoring program, professional training, financial support, networking and job placement.  Graduates become Wyakin Warriors for life, and will never be left to deal with life’s challenges alone.  “We wrap an army of people around each Warrior,” says Bacon.  Isolation is virtually impossible, and the warriors are able to share experiences and commiserate with each other in ways no one else could understand. 

Based in Boise, Idaho, the organization is being encouraged to expand nationwide because of its successes.  The number of applications continues to grow, and as more funding is identified, more veterans will begin their journeys as Wyakin Warriors.   

According to Executive Director and combat veteran Todd Monroe, “Our mission is to enable severely wounded and injured veterans achieve personal and professional success as business and community leaders.   The goal is to graduate veterans who are recognized for their capabilities and character rather than their physical challenges.“

And there is freedom in that.