(JAMESTOWN, NY) — The organizers and volunteers of the first annual Chautauqua Gran Fondo worked very hard make the bicycle tour a success. The participants and corporate sponsors gave generously to support the organizations chosen. Amongst the chosen are the Wounded Warrior Project and the Chautauqua County Veterans Endowment Fund. The Gran Fondo donated $4,000 to the Wounded Warrior Project and the endowment fund.

The Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) serves to “Honor and empower wounded warriors. The WWP was started by Veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who wanted to find a way to help their wounded comrades who served on or aPer September 11, 2001. Their goal is to provide long term support through a variety of programs designed to aide with rehabilitation and economic development. Wounded warriors struggle with multiple injuries that range from amputations of limbs to traumatic brain injury, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

The WWP seeks to provide ongoing support for Veterans recovering from catastrophic injuries. Many of these Heroes will face a lifetime of challenges and may never be able to return to a normal work life. The WWP also provides assistance to spouses of wounded warriors through its respite care and caregiver support programs.

Many wounded are eager to heal and return to work. The WWP provides them with training and assistance through their Transition Training Academy (TTA) and Warriors to Work programs. The TTA helps them develop new skills in information technology while the Warriors to Work program helps Veterans and their caregivers write resumes, prepare for interviews, and puts them in touch with various employers.

Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen take great pride in their duties but we often forget that military service is a two way street. While military service members have a duty to protect the nation and serve freedom and equality, we have a duty to take care of them when they come home. The Wounded Warrior Project takes this duty seriously. For more information on ways to give back to the WWP, visitwww.woundedwarriorproject.org.

The Chautauqua County Veterans Endowment Fund seeks to help local Veterans in need with emergency funds. The fund helps by providing a loan of up to $500. There is no interest on the loan and no time period for repayment. If a Veteran repays their loan, they can reapply as needed. Veterans have used the fund to pay for medications, pay rent, travel to out of state medical appointments, repair vehicles, and more. The Veterans endowment fund is a very real and meaningful way to serve our local Veterans in their time of need.

As a Veteran and an advocate, I am grateful Michelle Turner of the CCIDA and the good folks who organized the Chautauqua Gran Fondo for their generosity as well as to County Executive Vince Horrigan for his unwavering support for his fellow Veterans. Their goods deed will reach out and touch the lives of many Veterans. Thank you very much.

Michael Rauh, US Army Veteran and Service Officer with the Chautauqua County Veterans Service Agency

Jason Bussman