By COL Jim Rice, AW2 Director
On Memorial Day, Americans pause to remember the servicemembers throughout our history who have fallen in the line of duty. We also reflect on the true cost of freedom and the impact defending our freedom has on military Families.
On this important national holiday, I think about the wounded warriors and Family members I’ve gotten to know during my time at AW2. I’ve served in the U.S. Army for more than thirty years, most of my time in the Army Medical Department. From company grade time in Desert Storm to OIF tours as both a battalion and brigade commander, my units tried to ensure Soldiers were treated and evacuated timely and effectively. The response and treatment times for casualties have improved dramatically and have resulted in a significant reduction in combat deaths. The most severely wounded are moving forward post-injury, post-treatment to create new careers and achieve amazing goals due to their Families, great medical teams, and nationwide community support. Just two weeks ago, I was at inaugural Warrior Games watching 200 wounded servicemembers compete at the Olympic Training Center and watched as some realized for the first time that they were seconds away from qualifying to compete at the international Paralympic athlete level. It was powerful to see but only a small representation of the success ALL of our Wounded Warriors can achieve.
As we spend Memorial Day at barbecues and enjoying friends and Families, I’ll be thinking about those who struggle with this holiday due to the loss of a loved one. While the loss may lessen over the years, it’s always there. My hope is that those left behind can find some level of solace knowing how many around the world appreciate—every day—their loved one’s sacrifice serving our country.