Discover the Possibilities! Spotlight on the National Ability Center: A Place of Healing, Learning, & Self-discovery

If you're military and want a free get away or want to get involved in helping others discover the healing power of recreation you’ll love the National Ability Center (NAC)! No matter where your political allegiances fall, you'll probably agree that we're living during a divisive time. A time when turning on the nightly news can be enough to make your blood pressure skyrocket. I believe that in times like these, the heart-driven work of organizations like the NAC becomes more important than ever! A welcome dose of inspiration and unfiltered positivity. I'm so excited to share their mission with you today, since it's all about unity, community, and empowerment. 



What is the National Ability Center?

This phenomenal non-profit was founded in 1985, by Meeche White, a woman with a big vision. It exists to provide high-quality, inclusive programs to people of all abilities and backgrounds, including those in need. The center's programming is focused on sports and the outdoors, recreation and educational programs, giving all participants the chance to feel physically powerful and capable. The NAC is open to everyone, but is especially supportive of differently abled people who are struggling to feel confident and independent. 

As you might imagine, I found them through my work with wounded warriors and their wives, since the center has several programs geared toward wounded veterans and their caregivers. I think being able to use my job to get into places and do things that matter is the biggest gift, because it’s not about me. 

In fact, two of the women profiled in my book, Wounded Warrior, Wounded Wife, had transformative experiences through programs like the ones the NAC offers. Their stories show how pivotal these offerings can be in a warrior's recovery process, and his reconnection to his family.


How outdoor and recreational programs heal

Jane had become resigned to not traveling or going on adventures, and she missed that part of her life. Then she and her veteran husband, Kyle, had the chance to participate in skiing program that changed everything. Kyle had lost both of his legs to an IUD, so instructors strapped him into a monoski and put him on the bunny hill. Jane skied alongside him and watched him open up and transform before her eyes. This program got him out of his shell and rekindled their shared love of the outdoors. 

Larry lost an arm and an eye while fighting in Iraq, and returned home a changed man. His wife, Kendal, struggled to reconnect with him for months before discovering the equestrian center. At the time, Larry knew nothing about horses, but had always been curious about them. Months later, he would say in couples therapy that being close to the animals, smelling them, hearing them breathe, and feeling their soft yet powerful necks brought him a feeling of connectedness he could barely explain. He said it was the first time since his deployment that he remembered feeling comfortable in his own skin.

These experiences, these opportunities for reconnection and deep healing, are what the NAC provides. Service members who incurred service-related injuries or illness are given access to all National Ability Center sports and recreation programing at absolutely no cost to the service member or their family members. How incredible is that?

Supporting the NAC's outstanding services

On July 1, I hosted a book signing at Dolly’s Bookstore in Park City, Utah, and donated $250 of the proceeds to the NAC. At the event, I was lucky enough to connect with Kevin Stickelman, the organization's COO, and told him in person how much I admired the work his organization pioneered. Spending time at the Park City facility, I learned more about their programs for returning military veterans. These include PTSD camps, healing through horses, and multi-day wellness retreats. The NAC offers cycling, waterskiing, archery, and golfing in summer, skiing, snowboarding, fat-tire biking, and snowshoeing in winter. All for our brave wounded warriors and their amazing families. 


All of us have wounds, but not everyone can see them. The National Ability Center concentrates on healing both visible and invisible wounds though sports and outdoor activity. As participants build self-confidence, they gradually feel capable of taking on more challenges and living more successful lives. I'm proud to support and volunteer with them, and invite you to do the same: You can donate here, sign up to volunteer, and find information on matched gifts and corporate sponsorships, too. We can all serve those who serve. I may not wear a uniform, but I can give back in other ways. Volunteering to help with skiing and horseback riding is my niche, but you may find another way to contribute.

And don't forget, you can still order copies of Wounded Warrior, Wounded Wife on Amazon!

The Challenges of Living with a Wounded Warrior...

Read this SanDiego Magazine review of Wounded Warrior, Wounded Wife


Three years ago, while driving across the Coronado Bridge, Barbara McNally saw a man stop his car, walk to the bridge’s railing, and jump to his death. McNally, who later learned that the man was a military veteran, says that what she witnessed that day changed her life...




New Book Excerpt: Heroines in the Shadows: The Wives of Wounded Warriors

I can say with absolute certainty that writing my book, Wounded Warrior, Wounded Wife, was an honor. I connected with dozens of military spouses who had experienced pain, loss, and incredible upheaval, and was constantly amazed by their willingness to share their stories. They shared generously, frankly, and with the ardent hope of helping other wives to wounded veterans. It was a tremendous privilege to speak with them, and create a book designed to spread the word about their courage, perseverance, and unsung heroism.

I’d like to share the incredible story of one of these women with you now. Fiona attended SPA Day in 2014 and hearing about her experiences brought tears to my eyes. I’m so honored that she generously shared her personal history with me, and thrilled to be able to pass it along to you now. (You'll find a more detailed version of her story in my book.)


It was a routine, errand-filled day for Fiona when Patrick called from Afghanistan to tell her that he was heading out on an extensive mission and that she wouldn’t hear from him for a few weeks. When the phone rang at seven-thirty the next morning, she was caring for their four-month-old son, Stevie.

“I saw the call was foreign, but that it wasn’t from Patrick, and I began to worry.”

Her instincts were right. It was marine headquarters, calling to say that Patrick had been injured and would be coming home. That was all the information they gave her.

“I was feeding little Stevie in my arms when I dropped to the ground,” she recalled. “I was staying with my parents at the time, thank God, and my mother came running over to comfort me and help me understand what was going on. That date, July 4, 2012, is engraved on my heart.”

Later that morning, Fiona received a call from Patrick confirming that he’d been injured and was on his way home. As she waited for his return, Fiona found herself thinking back to when she was a freshman and Patrick a junior and they met at a high-school science fair. She was a studious, petite, blond science lover, and he a talkative Filipino baseball player. He watched, enthralled, as Fiona displayed her science project on biomechatronics. Theirs was an attraction of opposites, and they married right after high school in 2009. Then her buff jock joined the marines to serve his country, and she headed off to college to study biology and work as a yoga instructor.

During his time with the marines, Patrick was deployed twice. Fiona found Patrick’s second deployment to be the toughest, even before she received the call about his injuries. Patrick went to Afghanistan in April 2012 for active duty, while Fiona faced the challenges of studying, working, and caring for their son. 

Once Patrick returned to the States, Fiona found herself facing a whole new struggle, fighting and suffering alongside him as he endured numerous painful surgeries to get him to the point where his body could accommodate prosthetic legs. He underwent an amputation of his left leg and salvage interventions to save his lower right leg, battling infections throughout the ordeal.

A year later, after many unsuccessful attempts to save his right leg, Patrick, Fiona, and a team of doctors came to the painful decision to amputate the leg just below the knee. The rehab process Patrick had been through for his left leg would have to start all over again.

“A double amputee! I didn’t know if I could go through more surgeries and amputation while caring for little Stevie,” Fiona recalled. “Some people call this the boomerang effect: just when you think everything is going smoothly, it comes back around and hits you hard. I felt like we were starting all over again. I was finally adjusting to caring for both my husband and our son while studying, and this setback was overwhelming.”

In the face of this staggering array of challenges, they both pushed on. Six months after his second his amputation, Patrick began the journey of learning to walk with two prosthetic legs. Fiona dropped in as often as she could to see his progress and meet with the prosthetist who had made and fitted his artificial legs.

While the physical therapist taught Patrick to walk on his new limbs, Fiona and the prosthetist worked on merging her man with man-made machinery. Fiona was already scientifically inclined, and the biology, neuroscience, mechanics, electronics, and robotics involved in creating effective artificial limbs intrigued her. She wanted to learn more. Seeing Patrick light up as he learned to walk with his new legs inspired her. She decided to learn how to make devices that interact with human muscle and nervous systems, high-tech limbs that would give wounded warriors physical freedom again. She set out to get her master’s degree in prosthetics. Never one to sit on the sidelines, she felt empowered to make a difference in not only her husband’s life, but in the lives of other wounded warriors.

The first day Patrick walked on his own, he was filled with joy. Just that little bit of independence, that little bit of freedom, was enough to get him thinking, “Okay, I have a fighting chance.” Today he tells others that, since that day, he hasn’t “thought about suicide once, and self-medication is a thing of the past.”

At Fiona’s graduation with a master’s in prosthetics-orthotics, Patrick walked up to her on his new legs, one hand holding Stevie’s and the other holding a bouquet of flowers with a card that read, “Congratulations! You’ve taught me—and will now teach others lying wounded in hospital beds—not to get down on themselves in spite of missing a limb. You’ve shown me that life without limbs can be limitless.”


It takes courage to chose hope over fear and that’s what the wives of wounded veterans do, day after day. Studies show that people with access to a living support system heal faster and are less affected by PTS, so wives and partners like Fiona not only prevent tragic veteran suicides but also save our health care system millions of dollars. Love is healing source in the world, and it takes courage to love someone who goes to war healthy and vigorous but comes back injured.

And like all of the caring, passionate, brave, wise women I’ve met as I’ve collected their stories, Fiona demonstrates how much strength, resilience, intelligence, and courage it takes to be the woman behind the man, the support system that keeps the wounded veteran going once he’s returned from the battlefield. She is truly leading a hero’s life.

To read more real-life tales of hidden heroes, CLICK HERE and enjoy special pricing for a limited time!


Live at Changing Hands, December 7th: Presentation And Booksigning

Live at Changing Hands
7PM Wednesday, December 7th


The author, physical therapist, and founder of the Barbara McNally Foundation shares her new book, a collection of true stories which provide a look into the chaotic and demanding lives of military spouses as they adjust to living with injured combat veterans. 

Get your copy of Wounded Warrior, Wounded Wife in-store at Changing Hands Phoenix or when you order here. We'll send you an email confirmation with more details (usually within 24 hours).

SEATING opens at 6:30pm.
CAN'T MAKE IT? If you'd like a signed book, please call or order online. We ship to most locations.

Imagine sending your significant other to war and receiving a life-shattering phone call telling you he's been badly injured. What would you do? Out of the 16.9 million caregivers in the United States, 5.6 million are caring for wounded veterans. Most of them are women, thrust into caretaker roles for their husbands who return home with amputated limbs, brain injuries, burns, and disabilities, with virtually no support or training. Post-traumatic stress tears their families apart, and these women must wrestle with huge, imposing questions: Does he still love me? Can I support our family? How will this affect my kids, my love life, my happiness? 

Wounded Warrior, Wounded Wife is a collection of true stories, inspired by the voices of women at SPA Day (Support, Purpose, Appreciation), a now nationwide event, created by the Barbara McNally Foundation for military wives to restore and rejuvenate while enjoying the fellowship of other wives struggling with the same challenges. The book builds on the strength of women like Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth whose heroic story lights a positive, healing path for the indomitable human spirit while informing the recent political discourse about improving the plight of veterans, with timely and significant insight into the realities of injured veterans, including health care, but also minority and gender issues. More »

Book Launch and Reception October 20th: Bay Books, Coronado, CA


Please Join

Barbara McNally
at a
Launch & Reception for Her Newly Released Book

Thursday, October 20th

5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Bay Books
1029 Orange Avenue, Coronado, CA 619-435-0070


Wine and appetizers will be served

Barbara’s proceeds to benefit Coronado Hospital Foundation

Wounded Warrior, Wounded Wife provides much needed insight into the lives of our military heroes and their families. Through these stories we learn how we can begin to create a healing environment through caring, compassion, community support and love for one another.”

- Susan Stone, CEO Sharp Coronado Hospital

Book Signing Sunday, October 16th: Warwick’s, La Jolla, CA

Please Join

Barbara McNally

for a

 Meet & Greet Book Signing of her Newly Released Book


Sunday, October 16th

Noon to 2:00 p.m.


7812 Girard Avenue

La Jolla, CA


Barbara’s proceeds to benefit Soroptimist International of La Jolla

“Our club’s three-year focus is dedicated to supporting women in the military, active duty and separated from service. Wounded Warrior, Wounded Wife gives us a thoughtful look at the various ways women are affected by military service. We look forward to learning how we can be of support to these heroic women through Barbara’s book.”

- Bonnie Mendenhall, Past President, Soroptimist International of La Jolla