Written by Petty Officer 2nd Class Anthony Soto
One man has dedicated himself to helping disabled veterans. Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Steve Woitt, a food service specialist stationed at Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville, Florida, has volunteered in promoting and coordinating numerous events through the VetSports program. This initiative is nationwide non-profit, whose goal is to use sports as a tool to re-integrate injured military members and veterans into society, as well as help redirect their focus from despair to camaraderie. The idea is to instill a sense of teamwork; that being among other injured veterans will assist in the healing process, he said.
Woitt, an active duty service member, has committed three and half years to this program in the Jacksonville area, as well as throughout the southeast United States. He said his inspiration to get involved in this program was mainly due to the alarming rate of suicide among military veterans due to post-traumatic stress disorder.
“There are over 22 suicides every day among military veterans due to PTSD,” he said. “That’s far too many in my book.”
In addition to sports, Woitt also volunteers his time to veterans just by being willing to listen. Often times, many of these veterans need someone with whom to speak. Along with conversing with veterans and listening to their stories, he also offers spiritual support.
“From time to time, I’ll get a guy asking me to pray with him,” Woitt said. “So I’ll do that; me and my family, we’ll pray with these guys.”
Adding to the sense of family in VetSports, Woitt often brings his wife and two children to the sporting events. His family also helps the team members through support for the team, helping set up golf, flag football, volleyball and softball tournaments.
“I want to bring families together through VetSports,” he said. “A lot of these guys, they have their military family with them when they go overseas. When they return, that family gets dissolved and they often go to their wives, husbands and kids. VetSports offers to re-create that military family that many of these guys miss. It’s veterans helping veterans.”
Woitt has dedicated himself to helping bring down the number of suicides from 22 per day to zero. Through the VetSports program, physically and psychologically injured veterans can come together as a team and compete. The mission for these men and women now is to return to normal life, overcome PTSD and win games. By giving of his time and talents, he provides our heroes with emotional, mental and spiritual support. His goal is to help reduce the number of daily suicides and improve the overall well-being of his teammates.
“These folks made the ultimate sacrifice for us all. If I can help save one person from committing suicide, I’d say that’s a home run.”