The Idaho Statehouse served as the backdrop for a makeshift honor guard today as five Idaho men and one woman, each disabled in combat and training, were awarded honors and benefits to assist their next challenge in life. The six were inducted into the Wyakin Warrior Foundation, a nonprofit organization that assists severely wounded veterans through scholarship, mentoring, professional development training and networking programs.
“America’s and Idaho’s most preeminent commitment owed to those who have served is facilitating opportunities to those who have sacrificed the most when they return to civilian life,” said Lt. Gov. Brad Little.
The six, each wounded either in combat during the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts or in combat training, all have plans to further their education, thanks to the foundation’s scholarships.
“They did not ask to be discharged or retired from their military career,” said Roy Ledesma, Wyakin Warrior Foundation program manager. “So what we do is try to help them transition into a civilian career.”
The wounded warriors honored today were Alexander Crown, James Donaldson, Christian Emry, George Nickel, Kyley Trausch and Rodney White. Each of these inductees experienced service-related injuries, leaving them with disabilities of over 60 percent.
“There are many veterans, and there are many wounded veterans, but what we focus on are the ones that need it the most,” Ledesma said.
Inductees were selected not only on their disability-based need, but their character and motivation to give back to the community and their country.
According to Meridian Republican Rep. Marv Hagedorn, the nation "does a great job at selecting warriors to go out and stand tall."
“One of the things we have failed at for too many years is welcoming these tail-kickers back home and helping them transition from that battlefield back to business,” said Hagedorn. “The Wyakin Warrior Foundation was created to do exactly that.”
The American Legion Riders and the Boise Police Department escorted the six honorees from Boise State, down Capitol Boulverd and to the steps of the Statehouse.
After a moment of silence commemorating fallen soldiers of the past, the national anthem and pledge of allegiance, the inductees were introduced and presented with Wyakin Warrior jackets to signify their induction into the program.
“These warriors are part of the initial group of wounded and injured veterans who will lead the way for hundreds and even thousands who will follow in the path they have forged,” said Jeff Bacon, Wyakin Warrior Foundation board member.
A previous class of Wyakin Warriors—a group of five veterans—joined the new inductees on stage.
“Most importantly, we want to thank the honorees and their families. On behalf of Idaho, our profound gratitude to you and your families for your service and sacrifice," said Little. “Wyakin is a noble organization dedicated to those who have served and sacrificed. How different a world America would be had you not served and sacrificed.”