Artwork by Paul Combs
The Lovely Anna and I are on our way to Boise, ID today to attend the 2nd annual Wyakin Warriors Guardian Ball, along with a gaggle of other cartoonists as seen in the illustration above, drawn by illustrator and my USO cartooning tour comrade Paul Combs. Attending this year are:
- Bill Amend (FoxTrot)
- Jeff Bacon (Broadside/Greenside)
- Todd Clark (Lola)
- Paul Combs¬¨‚Ä†(Firefighter cartoonist)
- Marcus Hamilton (Dennis the Menace)
- Jeff Keane (The Family Circus)
- Rick Kirkman (Baby Blues)
- Mason Mastroianni (B.C.)
- Glenn McCoy (The Flying McCoys)
- Steve Moore (In the Bleachers)
- Jeff Myers¬¨‚Ä†(The Simpsons)
The ball is a black tie affair/fundraiser for the Wyakin Warriors organization. We’ll be doing drawings and chit chatting with the sponsors and attendees there to support the Wyakin Warriors.
What’s The Wyakin Warriors Foundation? It is an organization dedicated to providing support to wounded warriors through college education, placement, mentorships and other programs. They provide these brave veterans:
- A full, four-year scholarship (including room, board, books, tutoring, and living expenses).
- A custom, one-on-one, multi-layered mentoring program by the nation’s top leaders in business, industry and government service.¬¨‚Ä† Mentorship continues for a full year after graduation.
- Monthly professional development seminars by business leaders, public officials and employment experts.
- Lifetime membership in a fraternal organization (the Wyakin Warrior Foundation).
- A service project, completed while in school, to benefit other wounded warriors.
- Robust networking to assist them in securing gainful employment after graduation – not just get a job, but get a good job with upward mobility.
There are many programs and resources that will pay for a military veteran’s college education, but in the case of a wounded warrior, so much more is needed. They have challenges related to their injuries and experiences that exceed those of your average military retiree. I was shocked when Idaho lieutenant governor Brad Little told me at last year’s ball that only 12% of injured war veterans are successfully completing their post-military college educations. 12%! Just paying for college, while that is a great thing to do, isn’t enough. These veterans sacrificed things like their eyesight, limbs, mobility and more in service to our country. They need to be given all the support they need and deserve in order to be given a chance at a normal civilian life.
The Wyakin Warriors program goes far beyond just paying for college. Their mentoring and fraternal support programs keep these heroes on task and focused on their goals while they struggle with their other challenges. The networking and other educational and professional resources open doors for them after they complete their educations. The continuing personal and moral support of being a part of the WW fraternity gives them a lifetime of shoulders to lean on and sources of advice, guidance, and encouragement. This is a very unique, trailblazing program, and hopefully will become a template for others to provide similar support for our injured veterans.
The Wyakin Warriors was founded by retired naval captain Jeff Bacon, a fellow cartoonist who does the comic strips Broadside and Greenside, spearheaded our NCS USO tours, and is a great humanitarian. Our cartooning community is supporting his worthwhile efforts in every way we can. Jeff recently stepped down at the CEO of WW, but is still hugely active in the organization.
How can you help? Last year they had an online auction featuring original artwork from the attending artists and, I believe, a few others, including the opportunity to have your name included in a daily comic strip. I am not sure if the online auction is happening this year or not… they may have switched it to a live auction only at the ball. I will certainly post a link here if the auction is online. Otherwise you can visit the Wyakin Warrior’s website for info about supporting their efforts, or if you are in or near Boise tomorrow, Saturday Nov. 23rd, you can get tickets to the ball and rub elbows with a bunch of super-famous cartoonists… and me.
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