As the captain of the Army lacrosse team, John Fernandez set an example for his teammates, leading the Black Knights on the playing field. As a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army, he set an example for his fellow soldiers, leading his platoon on the battlefield in Iraq. And as a veteran and double-amputee, he sets an example for us all, helping fellow wounded veterans return to active lifestyles as alumni director for the Wounded Warrior Project, an organization dedicated to bringing comfort and support to wounded servicemen and women and their families. John, who was injured while serving in Iraq in 2003, returned to the playing field this spring, leading the Army alumni against the Navy alumni in the Heroes Cup at Madison Square Garden. His story touched everyone in attendance, but his efforts with the Wounded Warrior Project have made an impact for which applause is meager compensation. John and the Wounded Warrior Project have partnered with Disabled Sports USA to provide opportunities for servicemen and women and their families to experience everything life has to offer through sports and recreation. The Wounded Warrior Project’s adaptive sports program includes opportunities to participate in a variety of sports, including golf, skiing, cycling, water-skiing, and rock climbing. The Wounded Warrior Project also increases public awareness of the challenges returning wounded servicemen and women face. With the help of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) and 55 NCAA athletic programs, the Wounded Warrior Project has set up military awareness and appreciation nights at college sporting events across the country. The effort honors veterans while providing them the opportunity to escort color guards, participate in halftime shows and coin tosses, and give motivational speeches in locker rooms. For everything he has done and will do for his teammates, fellow soldiers, and the nation’s veterans through the Wounded Warrior Project, John has earned our appreciation, our applause, and our salute.
The Wounded Warrior Project is being recognized by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics.