1,000 mile expedition to highlight veterans’ issues on both sides of Atlantic
The Bob Woodruff Foundation, a nonprofit focused on meeting the needs of post-9/11 injured veterans and their families, is pleased to announce the addition of an injured American veteran to take part in the Walking With The Wounded’s Walk of Britain expedition.
Medically-retired Marine Sgt. Kirstie Ennis, from Milton, Fla., will join five wounded British veterans to walk 1,000 miles—through Scotland, Wales and England—to highlight the extraordinary determination of those injured in combat.
“All I need is the confidence that I can continue overcoming challenges regardless of the disabilities I carry now,” said Ennis. “I want to gain knowledge, and in turn motivation from hearing and sharing stories with the team, gain new friendships and express my appreciation to my allied brothers and sisters. I want the public, the world, to gain awareness as to just how precious our military and heroes are.”
The walk is being held by Walking With The Wounded, a charity in the UK established to support the employment aspirations and vocational outcomes of wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women, those who have been physically, mentally and socially disadvantaged by their service. It has already gained the support of Prince Harry who is Patron of the expedition and helped to launch the Walk Of Britain in March this year. Prince Harry, a combat veteran himself, is expected to join a portion of the walk.
“Our nations went to war together, so this is a great opportunity for our injured veterans to heal together,” said Lee Woodruff, co-founder of the Bob Woodruff Foundation. ”We are pleased to be a part of this effort to generate awareness and ensure that our veterans are thriving on both sides of the Atlantic.”
Ennis joined the Marine Corps at the age of 17, shortly after she graduated Milton High School with not only her diploma, but also an associate’s degree from Pensacola Junior College, in 2008.
For six years Ennis served as a helicopter door gunner and airframes mechanic on the CH-53 D/E Sea Stallion, with two deployments to Afghanistan. While performing combat resupply missions to Forward Operating Base: Now Zad, her helicopter crashed, June 23, 2012.
Ennis has undergone 38 surgeries for injuries including facial trauma, damage to her cervical and lumbar spine, hearing impairment, traumatic brain injury, and left foot limb salvage. Her recovery has included speech therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, vestibular therapy, and cognitive therapy over the past three years.
She has refused to allow these circumstances to define her and has found healing in competitive sports.
“I am extremely blessed to still be here today, because I lost brothers and sisters due to the war, said Ennis. “But I know they have been looking down on me, giving me the extra push to keep going. I cannot quit, nor give up because of them. I am here, breathing, living, and walking for them—I was lucky enough to come home; I’m carrying their memory with me and will continue telling their stories.”
Ennis took gold in the 2013 Marine Corps Trials for rifle shooting. She received three gold medals in swimming at the 2013 Warrior Games. She has completed several triathlons, and finished an Ironman. Currently, she is a 2018 Paralympic hopeful in snowboarding—currently ranked fifth internationally.
Beyond athletics, she received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from National University, in 2012, followed by her master’s in 2013. She is now completing her master’s in business administration.
Ennis will meet her British colleagues in London, June 4. The Bob Woodruff Foundation plans to add a second American to the Walk of Britain, before its start Aug. 21 in Scotland. The team will finish in London, Nov. 1.
Beyond the core team, sponsors of the walk have been assigned their own weeks, during which additional walkers can take part. For BWF, that will take place Sept. 21-28, in Wales, beginning at historic Caernarfon Castle, birthplace of the first Prince of Wales, before tackling the highest mountain in Wales, Mount Snowdon.
More details on the Walk Of Britain can be seen here: http://walkingwiththewounded.org.uk/walkofbritain2015/
About the Bob Woodruff Foundation:
The Bob Woodruff Foundation (BWF) is the nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring injured service members and their families are thriving long after they return home. A national organization with grassroots reach, the Bob Woodruff Foundation complements the work of the federal government —diligently navigating the maze of more than 46,000 nonprofits providing services to veterans—finds, funds and shapes innovative programs, and holds them accountable for results. To date, BWF has invested more than $25 million in public education and solutions, reaching more than 2 million service members, support personnel, veterans and their families. The Bob Woodruff Foundation was co-founded in 2006 by award-winning anchor Bob Woodruff and his family, whose own experiences inspired them to help make sure the nation’s heroes have access to the high level of support and resources they deserve, for as long as they need it. For more information about the Bob Woodruff Foundation, please visit bobwoodrufffoundation.org