A lot can happen within an academic advising appointment; courses, extracurricular activities, and internships are often discussed, and graduation plans are made. But for Animal Sciences major and Army ROTC member Kellie Garrity, she learned that The Ohio State University did not have a student organization to support the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP).
The WWP (www.woundedwarriorproject.org) is a non-profit organization that supports veterans and current service members who have suffered a mental injury, illness, or wound while serving. Their specific focus is those who have served or are serving after September 11, 2001.
“Dr. [Lyda] Garcia and I were discussing our military history/backgrounds in one of our advising meetings and she mentioned that her previous university [Texas Tech University] had fundraisers for the WWP and she hadn’t been approached about a similar fundraiser at Ohio State, which caught my attention,” said Garrity, a sophomore from Olmstead Falls. “I knew forming this club on campus would help so many local wounded veterans including my fellow buckeyes that have served, so we gathered a leadership team and we started planning!”
Garrity recruited fellow Army ROTC members Krystal Wheeler (a junior from Hilliard, majoring in health science) and Elizabeth "Lizzy" Williams (a junior from Ostrander, majoring in cognitive/computational neuroscience) to serve as organization officers and help establish a WWP at Ohio State. The three divided the tasks required by Student Life to start a new organization.
“Student Life has been incredibly supportive through the process,” Williams said. “There are quite a few steps a new organization has to complete to become active, but Kellie, Krystal and I split the work up so that we could knock out all of the requirements efficiently.”
One of the requirements was finding a faculty advisor for the organization. Garrity immediately remembered her advising appointment with Animal and Meat Sciences Assistant Professor Dr. Lyda G. Garcia, and knew she was the perfect person.
“I’ve always been very passionate about our U.S. military. At the end of my high school journey, I was torn between the military (Air Force) and college. Because I had received a full scholarship to livestock judge, my mother convinced me to give college a chance. And we all know how that turned out,” laughs Garcia. “I was very active with the WWP at Texas Tech University and was surprised OSU did not have something similar. So, I was more than happy to serve as an advisor. I knew these three young ladies would be able to run the organization and wouldn’t need much more than support from me.”
The three student leaders held their first meeting on Monday, November 5th in the Recreational and Physical Activity Center (RPAC). Additionally, they are brainstorming fundraisers to help local veterans. Hosting local fundraisers will also help the student organization register with the national WWP.
“To be in the WWP Student Ambassador program we have to register a fundraiser with the national organization through their website,” Williams said. “As we gain momentum through membership and support we will house fundraisers that will allow us to be WWP Student Ambassadors. We are excited and determined to get to that point.”
Membership recruitment efforts have been in the form of campus flyers, word-of-mouth, and a Facebook page (@WoundedWarriorProjectOSU). The organization is open to all students, not just those with military ties.
“It’s important to us to take WWP’s ideas and localize them so that we can see direct impact in our own community and help people here in Columbus,” said Williams. “We also want to show students, faculty, and staff on campus that any one of them can be part of something that makes a positive difference right in their backyard.”