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Wounded Warriors Gather to Celebrate Day of Healing

Image of Wounded Warriors Gather to Celebrate Day of Healing. Retired U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Nalani Quintello (second from left), from South Carolina, is embraced by friends after performing one of her original songs at the annual Wounded Warrior Day of Healing event held at the National Harbor on Nov. 13, 2023, sponsored by the Air Force Wounded Warrior program. “The Wounded Warrior Program has helped to deal with my anger from having my military career end sooner than I would have liked,” she said. “It has given me the platform to advocate for those who are suffering from invisible wounds.” (credit: Robert Hammer/Military Health System)

Wounded warriors from around the country visited the nation’s capital to participate in a week-long event celebrating comradery and recovery—starting with the Air Force Wounded Warrior Care Fair and Day of Healing in National Harbor, Maryland, on Nov. 13, 2023. The event was sponsored by the U.S. Air Force Wounded Warrior program.

Participants expressed emotions through musical overtures, comedy routines, and an art show. Adaptive athletes showed off their skills through several sporting events held at Joint Base Andrews throughout the week.

"The Day of Healing is an incredible showcase for the strength and resilience of our wounded warriors,” said Seileen Mullen, principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for health affairs. “The athletes, artists, musicians, and more coming together to share their stories of recovery is an inspirational reminder of why we celebrate Warrior Care and Caregiver Month.’

Music and Art Help Wounded Warriors ‘Find Their Calm’

For retired U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Nalani Quintello, music has always been a part of her life. She started performing since a child.

In 2015, she auditioned for American Idol and even made it to the live show in Los Angeles. While participating she had the “opportunity of a lifetime” and was invited to be a part of the U.S. Air Force Band’s rock band, Max Impact.

She decided to quit the reality show and enlisted in the U.S. Air Force, where she served for six years.

In 2021, she unexpectedly found herself medically retired.

Eventually she was convinced to come out to a Wounded Warrior program event to perform and found the people to be “amazing and so loving and caring,” and “found it to be helpful” with her own feelings and resentment.

“As I started to participate in events, I discovered that I have a platform to advocate for those suffering with invisible wounds,” said Quintello. “I was able to speak out about my situation and to share my story without fear or repercussion.”

“Music has been a big part of my recovery and being around these wonderful people has helped.”

She now serves as an ambassador with the Wounded Warrior program.

Music wasn’t the only medium on display during the Day of Healing event, as visual artists were displayed their work and talked about how art has helped with their healing.

Wounded Warrior Day of HealingThe visual arts and journaling have been therapeutic for retired U.S. Air Force Maj. Robert Scoggins of Denver, Colorado. He learned how to paint and to journal through the Wounded Warriors program. Also pictured is his service animal, Jefe. (Credit: Robert Hammer/Military Health System)

The visual arts and journaling have been therapeutic for retired U.S. Air Force Maj. Robert Scoggins of Denver, Colorado.

“I had never really done art before until I got involved with the U.S. Air Force Wounded Warrior program,” said Scoggins.

Having been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and having suffered a traumatic brain injury, he found himself “in a dark place.”

After multiple attempts to die by suicide, “I had a wake-up call to change what I was doing,” said Scoggins.

He was introduced to the program in 2016 and began to “change the things in his life that were causing to him to make poor decisions.”

“That's when I first started finding ways to go forward that were outside of the normal, and discovered that I had very poor coping methods,” he said. “I was able to get a grip on what was going on with my life and make the slow progressive changes needed to climb out of it.”

“I think there's more than one thing that can help other people …  but I would recommend to others to get involved in a group like this and if they're still active duty, seek help by talking to the right people.”

Scoggins said that he believed the Wounded Warrior program is “good at helping people with physical and mental recovery, and even career recovery.”

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