Wounded Warriors Team Up with New Orleans Saints for 'Virtual Rehabilitation'

Jun 21, 2010, 12:22 ET from Wounded Warrior Project

LEAVENWORTH, Kan., June 21 /PRNewswire/ -- Last week, 22 wounded warriors continued their path to recovery by working out with the New Orleans Saints live via webcam as part of the program "Rehabbing with the Troops." Sponsored by Armed Forces Insurance (AFI, www.afi.org), the 10-week rehabilitation program was developed by Pro vs. G.I. Joe, in partnership with the United Service Organizations (USO) and Wounded Warrior Project (WWP).

"More than 37,000 troops have been wounded during combat operations overseas since 2003. Rehabbing with the Troops shines a spotlight on the challenges wounded warriors face while helping these 22 veterans tackle the serious business of recovery," said Tom Dials (Colonel, U.S. Army, Ret.), chairman of Armed Forces Insurance. "We want to honor their sacrifice and support their recovery—this one-of-a-kind program is an ideal way to do just that."

Season One of the program began June 10 at the Wounded Warrior Project TRACK facility in Jacksonville, Fla., where the 22 wounded warriors—some from Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.—gathered to participate in the first interactive rehabilitation session. Wounded warriors and New Orleans Saints team members gathered in front of flat screen televisions provided by Best Buy to perform the rehabilitative exercises using a Nintendo Wii game console, accessories and webcam. Pro vs. GI Joe partnered with Wounded Warrior Project to develop custom workouts using specific exercises within the EA Sports Active title.

"Wounded Warrior Project is always looking for innovative ways to inspire and honor our wounded warriors," said Ronda Jarvis, executive vice president of physical health and rehabilitation for Wounded Warrior Project. "We are so thankful to Pro vs. G.I. Joe, AFI, Best Buy and the USO for putting together this cutting-edge rehabilitation program. This type of physical activity goes a long way in also healing the mind and spirit of a wounded warrior."

During the season, each wounded warrior will participate in multiple rehabilitation sessions per week and chronicle their journey on the Wounded Warrior Arena website (www.woundedwarriorarena.org), Twitter and Facebook. They also will participate in weekly challenges and earn prizes along the way. Fans and fellow wounded warriors can follow participants' progress on the website, work out with them in the Take the Warrior Challenge, and send messages of encouragement to their Facebook and Twitter pages. "Participating in this program gives me the opportunity to rehabilitate and become friends with fellow wounded warriors. I'm having a great time," said Sergeant Jeremy Stengel, (U.S. Marine Corps).

AFI provided a donation to fund Wounded Warrior Arena website development, rehabilitation equipment and other program elements—including the Wii game consoles, accessories and video camcorders, as well as the costs for two Iraq military journalist veterans, who will film the troops' journey and compile the footage into a documentary series. Produced by Thomas Bramble, creator and producer of Pentagon TV program Freestyle Iraq, the documentary will be uploaded to the Wounded Warrior Arena website (www.woundedwarriorarena.org). The 10-week season will conclude in New Orleans on August 21, where the troops will complete their final workout, receive awards at an AFI-sponsored luncheon and view the New Orleans Saints pre-season home opening game at the Louisiana Superdome.

"Wounded veterans have deliberately put themselves in harm's way to defend our freedom. They deserve an opportunity to recover in a special way that isn't available anywhere else," said Greg Zinone, founder, Pro vs. G.I. Joe and creator of the Rehabbing with the Troops program. "With the help of the New Orleans Saints and modern technology, we're giving it to them."

About Armed Forces Insurance

AFI was founded in 1887 by military leaders with a single mission: to protect the property of those who protect our nation. The company provides premium quality, competitively priced property and casualty insurance to active duty, former and retired military as well as active and retired Department of Defense employees throughout the United States and overseas. Headquartered in Leavenworth, Kansas, AFI understands that its subscribers have unique circumstances and insurance needs, enabling the company to offer a level of personalized service that's unequaled in the industry. For more information, visit www.afi.org or call 1-800-495-8234.

About Pro vs. G.I. Joe

Headquartered in Fairfax, Va., Pro vs. GI Joe is a nonprofit organization that provides troops serving all over the world with opportunities to take on professional athletes or celebrities in head-to-head video game competitions, both online and in person. The organization uses the best of today's modern technology—including webcams, PlayStation, Xbox Live and the Nintendo Wii—to make virtual connections across the miles. By reuniting family members of the participating troops via webcam during the event, Pro vs. G.I. Joe also connects families separated by military service. For more information, visit http://www.prosvsgijoes.org.

About Wounded Warrior Project

The mission of the Wounded Warrior Project is to honor and empower wounded warriors.  Its purpose is to raise awareness and to enlist the public's aid for the needs of severely injured service members, to help severely injured men and women aid and assist each other, and to provide unique, direct programs and services to meet their needs. WWP is a national, nonpartisan organization headquartered in Jacksonville, FL. To get involved and learn more, visit www.woundedwarriorproject.org.

About the USO

The USO (United Service Organizations) is a private, nonprofit organization that lifts the spirits of America's troops and their families. The USO provides a touch of home through centers at airports and military bases around the world, top quality entertainment and innovative programs and services tailored to meet troop needs.  The organization also provides critical support to those who need it most, including forward-deployed troops and their families, wounded warriors and their families, and the families of the fallen.  Relying on the generosity of individual donors and corporate sponsors, the USO strives to deliver maximum benefit for troops and their families from every donor dollar.  For more information, please visit www.uso.org

SOURCE Wounded Warrior Project