Note: JU faculty member and Varsity Shooting Team Coach David Dobson reports on the team’s activities related to the Wounded Warrior Project:
Jacksonville University’s Varsity Shooting Team continues to develop its unique relationship with the Wounded Warrior Project based in Jacksonville, including recently hosting 18 veterans for clay target shooting, as well as arranging an eye-opening visit by JU staff to WWP’s facilities.
JU President Tim Cost and his wife, Stephanie, paid a visit Aug. 28 to the Wounded Warrior Project (www.woundedwarriorproject.org) operations in a trip jointly arranged by JU faculty member and Varsity Shooting Team Coach David Dobson, and Dan Schnock (LTC, U.S., Ret.), Senior Director for WWP’s Soldier Ride and Special Events.
They were accompanied by JU Student Veterans of America chapter treasurer and JU Varsity Shooting Team Capt. Lissette Matos-Minehart (Sgt., U.S. Reserves), Dr. Donnie Horner (Col., U.S., Ret. and DCOB professor) and JU Chief Strategic Relationships Officer Michael Howland.
Dobson’s nephew-in-law, Dan Nevins (SSG, U.S., Ret.), an EVP at the WWP, lost his legs in Iraq while on a classified mission and credits the WWP for being a major factor in helping him recover. He has been the inspiration for Dobson’s involvement in the WWP as a volunteer since 2008.
With more than 300 veterans on the JU campus, including graduates of the WWP’s TRACK program, this was a fitting visit for President Cost and accompanying guests. JU student veterans and members of JU NROTC play a major role in the JU community, and the Student Veterans Center scheduled to open on campus Nov. 7 is a testament to their service and sacrifice.
While standing in front of the WWP display of a piece of steel from the Twin Towers — a gift to the WWP from the City of New York – President Cost remarked that it was only by a last-minute meeting change that he was spared from being in the Twin Towers at the time planes hit them on 9/11 – a sobering moment for all in attendance.
The 90-minute visit included a full tour of the WWP headquarters; an in-depth sharing of their mission, history and major players; and a stop-off at the WWP’s TRACK program facility, where Warriors spend a year rebuilding their minds, bodies and spirits. The visit was emotionally charged: one cannot set foot inside and not feel touched by the realization of the humanity for one’s fellow man and the sacrifices of our military.
A few weeks later, on Sept. 17, the JU Varsity Shooting Team and some Jacksonville veterans hosted 18 Warriors from the WWP at the Jacksonville Skeet & Trap Club, in a day of fellowship and clay target shooting.
The day provided laughs, fun and healing for all. In particular, JU Team Capt. Matos-Minehart inspired all around her. She has served in the U.S. Army for 11 years; has done three tours, in Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan; and is a combat-wounded veteran. The JU Shooting team affectionately calls her “Sgt. Sparky,” and this mother of two girls is an inspiration to all of us. She reminds us that we must never forget.
We thank all of the veterans and their families for their service and sacrifice.