John Roberts served in the US Marine Corps from 1983 to 1996, when he received a medical discharge following a prolonged recovery from wounds suffered in the crash of a helicopter in the seas of Somalia at the beginning of Operation Restore Hope. Operation Restore Hope was a United Nations-sanctioned intervention meant to avert a growing humanitarian disaster in the wake of the collapse of the government in Somalia, a country strategically located on the Horn of Africa.
In that 1992 crash, John suffered third-degree burns over 80 percent of his body, resulting in the loss of use of his left leg. His right arm was nearly severed; though doctors were able to reattach the arm, John suffers a serious loss of use of this extremity as well. Following military service, John wasted no time in starting a career devoted to his fellow wounded veterans. His first job was with the Disabled American Veterans, working as a national service officer in the organization’s office in Houston, Texas.
From there he took on responsibilities as a veterans service representative with the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Working in Houston, John moved up the ranks to become supervisor of the VA regional office. During his first year with the VA, he received an award as Houston’s Disabled Federal Employee of the Year. In addition, because of his ability to assist severely injured service men and women, he was sent on a six-month temporary assignment to Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
On March 29, 2007 – exactly 15 years after the date of his injury – John left the VA to become national service director for Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP). He was later promoted to the position of mental health and family support executive vice president and today served as warrior relations executive vice president. In this role, John works with all WWP program staff to ensure the most effective, beneficial warrior experience possible.
Commenting on his work, John says, “It feels great every day to be out there as part of an organization that’s always looking for new ways to make life better for our newest generation of Wounded Warriors.”