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Midshipmen Intern with Wounded Warrior Advocacy Program

Posted on: September 06, 2013 08:00 EDT by Jessica Clark

Having already spent time on ships or subs or in squadrons as part of their professional development, senior midshipmen often have the opportunity to get creative with their summer training.

Midshipman 1st Class Elissa Kim, of Ashburn, Va., chose to devote much of her summer to helping wounded service members.

Kim, along with Midshipman 2nd Class Sarah Bernhardt, spent a month with the SOCOM Care Coalition, beginning with a week at the SOCOM headquarters in Tampa, Fla. There they met with the Care Coalition staff to learn more about the program’s mission to support wounded, ill and injured service members through recovery and transition either back to military duties or civilian life.

“What’s awesome about them is they offer life-long advocacy for these service members,” said Kim. “They offer lifetime support, not just for them but for their families as well. It’s a very close-knit community.”

The midshipmen spent the second week of the internship near Pensacola at a fitness facility designed for professional athletes and special forces service members, what the facility calls “tactical athletes.”

The mids participated in the facility’s Intensive Restoration and Training program, specifically designed to rehabilitate wounded warriors. The program creates personalized training and nutrition plans to allow service members to concentrate solely on recovery and training.

Working alongside the wounded service members, the mids learned about their stories and their recovery process, said Kim.

“They have such a great outlook on life,” she said. “They’re comfortable talking about what happened to them, and what they have to say is really inspirational. They all come from different backgrounds and have different stories.”

The midshipmen spent the final two weeks at Walter Reed Medical Center, observing surgeries and spending a lot of time in the amputee and physical therapy clinic. They spoke with doctors and prosthetists and met with recovering service members.

“It’s a humbling experience. After you see what they go through, you don’t want to complain about anything ever again,” said Kim.

“The internship served to help us understand what our future sailors or Marines may have to go through. As officers, I feel that’s really important to know so we can better take care of our men and women.”
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