A San Diego resident now recovered after surviving the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon was one of more than 500 people that gathered in Washington, D.C. to call for solutions to issues affecting wounded veterans.
Kevin Shaeffer stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial with other activists during the Wounded Warriors annual meeting.
“We go and trace back my service, 9/11, as being a survivor of the pentagon attack and I’ve lived my life with a motto of never forget,” Schaeffer said. “And so now I’m giving back with Wounded Warrior project and to help raise awareness about the challenges facing this generation to never forget and also let our veterans know they’re never alone.”
Shaeffer said he was in the Navy working as a member of the Pentagon staff in the Navy Command Center when the plane crashed into the building.
“It instantly killed everyone in my immediate vicinity,” Shaeffer said. “I managed to stay conscious and fight to get out of the space and was transitioned to the Washington Hospital burn unit where I was treated for some severe third degree burns on over 50 percent of my body.”
Now, he helps other veterans through the Wounded Warrior project.
“Our veterans face significant challenges in mental health, recovering physically, economic empowerment issues, transitioning to that new career, and working from a status of surviving to thriving,” Shaeffer said. “And that’s the difference between having a job and building a career, from struggling alone with post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety or depression to helping other warriors cope with their illness and also recognizing that they’re not alone and understanding that.”
The organization focused on economic empowerment, employment, mental health and long-term care as the most pressing issues for injured veterans in the coming year.