Tag Archives: Wounded Warriors Project

Queens pols face Bronx rivals in first Battle of the Boroughs Bowl

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

Politicians turned into playmakers for a special touch football game.

Queens and Bronx politicians faced off in the first ever Battle of the Boroughs Bowl at Monsignor McClancy High School in East Elmhurst Sunday.

The touch football event was organized to raise money by collecting donations, with all proceeds going to the United Service Organizations (USO) and the Wounded Warriors Project.

“At the heart, the core of this little fun outing that we are having, where hopefully no one will be hurt, is a really serious intent, and that intent is to help our veterans,” said Assemblymember Mike Benedetto, who is chair of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

The lawmakers in attendance ranged from all levels of government, including City Comptroller John Liu, State Senator Mike Gianaris, Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, Councilmember Peter Vallone Jr., Assemblymember Mike DenDekker and many more.

“Off the field and out of the office it’s good to have a personal relationship with your colleagues,” said DenDekker, who helped organize the event.

In addition to playing for a good cause, many of the politicians competed for city bragging rights.

“It’s friendly, it’s a fundraiser for our veterans, but its also serious business,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer. “We’re obviously competitive people, we are used to winning. And I am anxious to demonstrate to the people of my district that I can play football even though it’s been 20 years.”

In the end, Queens lost to the Bronx, 20-19.



Wounded Warriors Adaptive Water Sports Festival will go on as planned

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

The show will go on.

Assemblymember Phillip Goldfeder helped acquire the use of a new dock for the Wounded Warriors 10th annual Adaptive Water Sports Festival, so now the event can continue as planned.

Each year the water sports festival by the Wounded Warriors Project, an organization dedicated to empowered injured soldiers, provides the multi-day sports event in Breezy Point to treat veterans. But Sandy destroyed a necessary landing dock, which threatened to cancel parts or all of the festival.

“The neighborhood has been looking forward to this event to provide a much needed sense of normalcy,” said Flip Mullen of Wounded Warriors.

Goldfeder’s office got the ball rolling with the Wounded Warrior Project, Seastreak Ferry and the NYC Economic Development Corporation, to ensure veterans could use the new dock at Beach 108th Street so they can commute to and from the Rockaways.

“It has been eight months since Superstorm Sandy ravaged our community and we could not let the storm prevent us from continuing our traditions of celebrating our Wounded Warriors,” Goldfeder said.  “Our veterans fought to protect our country and we are proud to welcome them back to Rockaway.”

During the water sports festival injured veterans, many who have lost their limbs, will be able to water ski, kayak and learn to scuba dive.

The event will run from July 11 -13. The Wounded Warriors are scheduled to arrive at 7 p.m. on Thursday, July 11 at the Belle Harbor Yacht Club.



Wounded Warrior won’t let injuries define him

| aaltman@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Timothy Strobel

When Army Corporal Timothy Strobel returned home from active duty, he felt out of place, ineffectual and on edge. Suffering injuries to his brain, leg and back were only the physical damages from life overseas. The emotional wounds ran deeper.

After a year-long stint as a senior medic in Schweinfurt, Germany from 2005 to 2006, Strobel deployed to Iraq. His infantry unit operated out of Forward Operating Base (FOB) Falcon, but relocated to Iraqi Police Barracks following an upsurge of troops.

On March 7, 2007, while in Baghdad, Strobel sustained a gunshot wound to his lower left leg. He patched himself up and was taken to a hospital, where a doctor told him he needed to have his leg amputated. He was transported to Landstuhl, Germany where another doctor supported the decision to remove the limb.

The round had snapped his Achilles, making re-attachment surgery somewhat futile and shortening his tendon.

On his return to the U.S., Strobel, now 29, refused to give up, spending the next two years in physical therapy, twice a day, five days a week.

The Long Island resident currently has 70 percent use of his left leg, for which his right side is forced to compensate. He attends physical therapy three times a week to maintain use of the injured appendage. His gait is slightly off and barely noticeable to others. The limp caused his pelvis to tilt forward, dragging his spine with it. Multiple spinal disks have herniated and bulged as his back is slowly destroyed.

Doctors predict Strobel will eventually rely on a wheelchair.

However, the prophesied diagnosis does not frighten Strobel.

“These are the same people who said I would never walk again,” he said. “So I look forward to proving them wrong again.”

Strobel withstood 13 roadside bombs while overseas, six in the first five days of December, 2006. While he avoided shrapnel, the blasts rattled his brain against the inside of his skull repeatedly, leaving him with cognitive issues. Days when it resonates strongly, Strobel experiences memory loss – rereading a book and being surprised by an ending he has heard before.

The Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was inevitable, according to Strobel. As a medic responsible for determining the cause of death of civilians, he experienced more gruesomeness than most. Haunted by memories of the deceased, Strobel flashes back to a mother and her young son, killed during a particularly grisly month.

“[I see] those two poor souls when I close my eyes sometimes,” said Strobel.

At home, the nightmares continued. His injuries left him feeling as if he let his soldiers down.

“After I returned, five of my soldiers died, and I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that I might have been able to save them,” said Strobel. “For a long time, I felt all alone and useless.”

Strobel was sent to West Point’s Warrior Transition Unit, a sector designated specifically for injured soldiers. It was there that he discovered the Wounded Warrior Project, an organization providing support and assistance to members of the armed forces wounded in the field.

The group provided a sense of camaraderie Strobel had not felt since his days in the Army. They took trips and went to events, reacclimating to life back home. Introductions with other injured soldiers erased the loneliness and snapped him out of his depression.

The project helped him get his VA benefits and set up a GI BILL. He is now working toward becoming a Nurse Practitioner.

The Wounded Warrior Project arranged for Strobel to propose to his girlfriend Jenn on Fox News. In full uniform, Strobel knelt down in the middle of Times Square and presented an engagement ring. She said yes.

Strobel remains involved with the program, attending events and weekly therapeutic sessions.

As troops arrive home, Strobel offered advice for those suffering battle wounds.

“Don’t let your injury define you,” said Strobel. “Instead, let it motivate you to do whatever it is you want to do next. Never forget what you went through, but don’t let it dominate your thoughts, even if what you went through was horrible. You are stronger for having gone through it, and it helped make you the person you are today.”

For more information about the Wounded Warrior Project, visit www.woundedwarriorproject.org.

Ozone Park company launches special cycles to benefit Wounded Warriors

| aaltman@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Alexa Altman

When Sergeant Stephen Siwulec returned home from Afghanistan in 2004, he thought his life was over.

The soldier, who suffered injuries to his heart, brain, hip and back following a close encounter with an explosive device, assumed his future would consist of days spent on the couch, gaining weight and watching his life deteriorate.

Instead, the Long Island native joined a brotherhood of 20,000 soldiers, also injured in battle, called the Wounded Warriors Project. The organization, which provides assistance to former members of the armed forces, hurt in combat, encouraged Siwulec to stay active, enrolled him in school and helped him obtain his benefits.

“I don’t know if I would be here without the Wounded Warriors,” said Siwulec.

Now, one Queens company has decided to give back.

Worksman Cycles, the country’s oldest bicycle manufacturer and an Ozone Park establishment, has introduced a special series of merchandise benefitting members of the Wounded Warrior program. At least 10 percent of each vehicle’s purchase price will be donated to the organization.

The handmade bikes run between $400 and $600 and are available in three frames and two colors – Men’s Destroyer Heavyweight Cruiser and Women’s and Men’s Patrol Midweight Roadsters in either Hell on Wheels Khaki or Haze Grey. Each one is emblazoned with Wounded Warrior Project graphics.

“It’s kind of a ‘bad’ looking bike,” said Bruce Weinreb of Worksman Cycles.

The company was established in 1898 on the footprint of the World Trade Center before relocating to Ozone Park in 1979 and taking over a factory that previously made candles.

On Thursday, April 5, Weinreb, Siwulec and company officials toured the Worksman Cycles factory for the launch of the Wounded Warrior Project bikes.

Timothy Strobel, another member of the Wounded Warrior Project, also visited the bike manufacturer’s facility. Strobel, who suffered a gunshot to the leg in Iraq, has been a member of the Wounded Warrior Project since 2007. Strobel said the camaraderie shared between soldiers continues in alumni programs such as the Wounded Warriors is crucial to those formerly in the armed forces.

“They’re all your brothers,” said Strobel. “The real world is more dog eat dog.”

Inside the factory, Strobel and Siwulec watched every step in the process of creating the Wounded Warrior bikes — the welding of the metal pieces, the sprays of multi-hued paint and the attachment of its airless wheels.

Strobel and Siwulec found the process fascinating — watching the creation of a product, directly benefitting soldiers like them.