LIFE-CHANGING Healing & Community-Building

The 2017 Optum Women’s Initiative presented by Pritzker Military Foundation, a unique therapeutic Project Hero program for female Veterans with PTSD, MST and TBI, was held November 6 through 10 at the Orange Springs Retreat Center in Orange Springs, Florida
Project Hero Women’s Initiatives support women who have served our country by providing unique, life-changing opportunities to grow and experience a special kind of healing and support.
“Our participants were enthusiastic, committed and engaged,” said Jaimie Lynch, Project Hero Women’s Initiative Program Director. “They made such a successful program possible and helped us with our goals of community-building and personal growth.”
Now in its fourth year, the 2017 Women’s Initiative featured guest speakers; American Red Cross workshops on stress, trauma, depression and anger management; Women in Business and Goal Setting seminars; outdoor activities; trust- and community-building exercises; and daily bike rides on hand cycles, recumbent cycles, adaptive bikes and traditional road bikes. The event was also highlighted by a nutrition seminar led by renowned chef and Army Veteran Roshara “Chef Ro” Sanders.  
“The camaraderie and the lifelong bonds that these women make with one another, the unconditional support and love they show to one another, and the unique understanding among these women is an incredible thing to witness,” said Tina Ray, Project Hero Research Director. 
To optimize healing and relationship-building opportunities, as in previous years, the event exclusively included female participants and was produced and managed solely by women from the Project Hero staff.
“The Women’s Initiative is unique and its success exemplifies Project Hero’s mission of helping America’s Finest achieve hope, recovery and resilience,” said John Wordin.
As part of its 10th Anniversary, Project Hero is planning three regional Women’s Initiative programs in 2018.

In Their Voices: 
Women’s Initiative Participants Speak Out

“I wanted to find a community of Vets who love cycling as I do. I also wanted to find a network of fantastic women who faced some of the same challenges as I have, or those who have faced their own battles and are working to conquer them.”

“It’s a very supportive environment and it provides a level of therapy.”

“[The Women’s Initiative] has given me the inspiration that I can do anything I put my mind to once I push myself [like] riding long distances.”

“Gave me a community I feel safe in with my PTSD.”

“This event allowed me the opportunity to find something I can do, despite my limitations.”

“The camaraderie and the ability to network and create lasting friendships and life lines.”

“This event offers things specific to me as a woman to better improve my mental, physical and spiritual being.”

“It’s given me great coping skills learning from others’ experiences.”

“I like being among other Veterans, especially females—and we inspire and empower each other.”

Project Hero Partners — Who make it all possible