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Last week, the George W. Bush Institute announced a major initiative to address the invisible wounds of war, specifically Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post Traumatic Stress (PTS), to ensure veterans and caregivers seek and receive comprehensive care and reduce the stigma associated with these wounds. In addition, the Institute will highlight the role sports and an active lifestyle play in a veteran’s recovery. To kick off the effort, President George W. Bush and Ken Fisher, Chairman and CEO of Invictus Games Orlando 2016, the world’s largest military adaptive sports competition, announced the organizations will co-chair a policy symposium in Orlando in May 2016. President Bush will also serve as honorary chair for the 2016 Invictus Games, which are being sponsored by Jaguar Land Rover.
“I have dedicated the rest of my life to honoring the service and sacrifice of the men and women with whom I served as Commander-in-Chief,” said President Bush. “Those who wear their Nation’s uniform, some of whom have been overcome both visible and invisible injuries, deserve our support. I’m proud to serve as honorary chairman of the Invictus Games Orlando 2016, and to shine a spotlight on the unconquered spirit of these men and women, not just from the American team but from 15 Coalition nations.”
Ken Fisher, Chairman and CEO of Invictus Games Orlando 2016 said: “We are thrilled to co-host the first policy symposium on the invisible wounds of war and the role sports and physical activity have in a warrior’s recovery. We must continue the dialogue that will inspire these men and women to re-engage, to embody what they can do and shine a light in the often dark and isolated area of invisible injuries.”
The symposium will be held prior to the opening ceremony of the Invictus Games Orlando 2016 and will highlight the critical roles of organizations involved in the Games and the international need to support wounded warriors and their families. Over the course of the symposium, representatives from the 15 nations, along with leading representatives from the veterans, military, business, nonprofit and government sectors will gather to discuss solutions aimed at helping returning servicemen and women overcome their injuries and improve outcomes for their transition back to civilian life. The objectives of the symposium include:
- Inspire leadership and foster action on the part of the 15 nations to ensure warriors and care-givers seek and receive legitimate and comprehensive care for the non-visible wounds of war;
- Highlight the role of sport and active lifestyles in recovery;
- Reduce the stigmas associated with these wounds;
- Honor the service, sacrifice, resilience and continued leadership of our wounded warriors and care-givers.
Since leaving the White House, President Bush has remained a tireless advocate for American veterans and their families. In 2009, President Bush founded the George W. Bush Institute and its Military Service Initiative (MSI). Through the MSI, the Institute honors those who have served and sacrificed in the United States Armed Forces post-9/11 by bridging the Civilian-Military divide and fostering a successful transition and reintegration from military service to civilian life.
The Bush Institute has been working to reduce the stigma associated with the invisible wounds of war and improve the health and wellness of those living with these injuries. Through the MSI, the Bush Institute has been conducting an annual Warrior Open Golf Tournament to honor U.S. service members. Each spring, the Institute hosts the W100K, a 100 kilometer mountain bike ride with President Bush and wounded service men and women.
With the Invictus Games Orlando 2016, the Bush Institute aims to form an impactful partnership that will raise awareness of the challenges facing those suffering from the invisible wounds of war, increase initiatives to improve their physical, mental, and spiritual recovery, and complement existing efforts in these areas.
The Invictus Games Orlando 2016 will bring together more than 500 competitors from 15 nations to compete in 10 military adaptive sports: archery, cycling, indoor rowing, sitting volleyball, swimming, track and field, powerlifting, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby, and wheelchair tennis. The Games will shine a light on the holistic recovery and rehabilitation that occurs through sport for the wounded, ill, and injured Service men and women who participate in them. Though only 500, these men and women represent the tens of thousands of Service members around the globe who face the daily challenges from their wounds, illnesses, and injuries, both visible and invisible.
To learn more about the George W. Bush Institute and its Military Service Initiative visit: http://www.bushcenter.org/bush-institute/military-service-initiative
Ashley McConkey manages communications for the George W. Bush Presidential Center and is responsible for message development on behalf of the Economic Growth, Human Freedom and Military Service initiatives.
Before joining the Bush Center, McConkey worked in the communications and public policy arena in Austin, Texas for both non-profit and corporate entities. She also served as a Budget and Policy Adviser to Texas House Speaker Joe Straus.
McConkey grew up in Greenville, Texas and moved to Austin to study Political Science at St. Edward’s University. She and her husband reside in Dallas.Full Bio
Mental Health Awareness Month
May marks Mental Health Awareness Month, an opportunity to raise awareness and reduce stigma, particularly for veterans and the invisible wounds of war. Members from the Bush Institute’s Warrior Wellness Alliance offered their perspectives throughout the month to discuss what they wish more civilians understood about veteran mental health, post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries. They also discussed how everyone can help get more warriors the care they need. Check out their videos below.
How a Community in New Orleans is Helping Veterans Transition
Dylan Tête, Executive Director and Founder, Bastion Community of Resilience will receive the George W. Bush Institute Military Service Citation at the Bush Center's Forum on Leadership.
Creating a Global Veteran Community
Deputy Director of Military Service Initiative Kacie Kelly recently spoke at an international veterans’ mental health conference: “Evidence, Innovation, and Practice” hosted by Kings College London and the Forces in Mind Trust Foundation.