WASHINGTON (NNS) -- More than 75 wounded warriors and their caregivers – including four Sailors affiliated with Navy Safe Harbor – were celebrated during Bob Woodruff Foundation's "Stand Up for Heroes" event in Washington, D.C., June 16.
Lt. Samuel Caldwell, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician 1st Class Todd Hammond, Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class James Raffetto, and Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Max Rohn – all of whom were injured during combat – and their families and friends attended the star-studded event hosted by Bob and Lee Woodruff.
The reception drew more than 800 people, including senior military officials, corporate and association executives, members of the media, congressional leaders, and Administration officials. During the seated dinner program, The Daily Show's Jon Stewart and the 2011 Grammy Award-winning band Train provided entertainment.
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said to the wounded warriors in attendance, "I am continually amazed by your grit and resilience."
When he assumed his post, his first thought of visiting wounded service members, Gates said, "I wasn't sure I could handle it, or what I would say. Seeing firsthand the incredible sacrifice ... I frankly wasn't sure I could keep it together."
Gates said people kept telling him, "'[The wounded warriors] will lift you up.' And you have," he said. "More than you can possibly imagine."
"I am tremendously humbled to be here and to meet people like Secretary Gates and Admiral Mike Mullen [chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff]," said Caldwell about the event. "And it's an honor to see all of these wounded warriors, who remind me how lucky I am to still have all of my limbs. They make me feel as though my sacrifices were worth it."
Caldwell sustained a spinal cord injury in 2008 while he was deployed to Iraq as an Individual Augmetee.
Raffetto echoed Caldwell's sentiments, saying, "Sometimes it seems like the media has forgotten those of us who were injured in combat. But events like this show that many people still care. It's great to be here among other wounded warriors and the people who support us."
Raffetto, a triple amputee, was injured last year by an improvised explosive device blast while deployed to Afghanistan. He was joined at the event by his father, John Raffetto.
Caldwell and Raffetto, as well as Hammond and Rohn, are affiliated with Navy Safe Harbor, the Navy and Coast Guard's wounded warrior support program. Safe Harbor provides a lifetime of individually tailored assistance designed to optimize the success of enrollees' recovery, rehabilitation, and reintegration activities. The program works closely with the Bob Woodruff Foundation and other organizations to garner additional support for seriously wounded, ill, and injured Sailors and Coast Guardsmen.
"The Bob Woodruff Foundation and other non-government organizations are key to helping the Service's wounded warrior programs fulfill unmet needs of wounded service members and their families," said Kelly C. Dempsey, Navy Safe Harbor's Family Programs and Charitable resources coordinator. "They're also instrumental in spreading the word about how every citizen across this country can take action to support our military and their families, who've been carrying the burden of war for years. No one organization can do it alone. We welcome and are appreciative of the support."
The Bob Woodruff Foundation was co-founded by award-winning television reporter Bob Woodruff and his family after he sustained serious injuries while covering the Iraq war in 2006. The Foundation is building a movement to empower communities nationwide to take action to successfully reintegrate our nation's injured heroes, especially those who have sustained the hidden injuries of war, back into their communities so they may thrive physically, psychologically, socially, and economically.
Proceeds from the "Stand Up for Heroes" event will support the Bob Woodruff Foundation's efforts to ensure injured service members, veterans, and their families return to a homefront ready to support them.
For more information about Navy Safe Harbor visit www.safeharbor.navy.mil. For more information about the Bob Woodruff Foundation visit www.ReMIND.org.
For more news from Chief of Naval Personnel, visit www.navy.mil/local/cnp/.