Healing the scars of war: Operation Comfort helps veterans overcome the past
"Healing the scars of war... Forever empowering our Veterans to overcome the trauma of the past," as stated by Operation Comfort's mission statement on their website at https://operationcomfort.org/. The San Antonio-based organization has six programs designed to promote an inclusive and positive environment where wounded, ill, and injured service members of all service branches, active duty and veteran, as well as their immediate family can recover and get involved in the community. These programs are:
- Sled Hockey
- Special Events
The cycling was the organization's first program that started in 2005. They own a fleet of hand cycles, road bikes, recumbents, and tandems to be retrofitted for each Veteran's needs. Their rides are led by cycling coaches with assistance from the program's Ambassador Athletes. This effort has benefitted the wounded and helped them overcome their obstacles and stay fit.
On Jan 18, 2021, MLK's Birthday, the organization received a $500 donation from the Greenway Trails Bicycle Riders, a Meetup Group that promotes recreational cycling on the Howard W. Peak Greenway Trails System. The organization charges annual dues that are used for covering administrative expenses such as the Meetup fees and generating enough funds to make a donation for a good cause.
Operation Comfort was founded by Janis Roznowski in 2004. Roznowski was a flight attendant for American Airlines and was assigned flights going in and out of Kuwait City. She has seen what the active duty have endured from active combat. In August 2003, feeling a deep responsibility towards the incredibly brave men and women who serve our great nation, she began visiting the wounded at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Landstuhl, Germany. Several months later, she realized that they were being transferred to Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC) in San Antonio, only two hours from her home in Austin, so she began visiting them recovering at BAMC.
Since 2004, the programs offered have included emergency family financial assistance, adaptive sports such as the cycling, and a program called Automotivation where the wounded can learn automotive repair and restoration as well as welding. Realizing she had no time to fly, Janis retired from American Airlines in 2007. "We continually adapt our programs to meet the ever-changing needs of those we serve. We currently offer cycling, yoga, sled hockey, and woodworking," said Felicia Guerra, Adaptive Sports Coordinator.
The organization's cycling page (https://www.operationcomfort.org/cycling/) describes four types of bicycle types that can be applied to the various abilities: Hand cycles, recumbent bikes, tandems, and upright (road and mountain) bikes.
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