Army Gathers Recommendations for Improvements

Veteran Carlos Labarca-Cruz and his Family

Veteran Carlos Labarca-Cruz and his Family traveled from Puerto Rico to attend the 2010 AW2 Symposium in San Antonio, Texas.

By COL Jim Rice, AW2 Director

For the sixth year in a row, AW2 is bringing in more than 65 delegates—severely wounded, injured and ill Soldiers, Veterans and their spouse/caregiver—to identify the top issues facing this population and recommend improvements. While delegates are hard at work, their children will participate in Operation Purple®, an urban adventure camp hosted by the National Military Family Association.

I look forward to this event every year. Not only does it keep AW2 focused on what is important to the Army’s wounded warriors, but it unites Soldiers and Veterans together—as well as their Families. This afternoon I saw a Soldier, two Veterans, two wives and a mom all talking in a group about their challenges and their accomplishments. There were tears but also much laughter in describing the adventure that comes with being a wounded warrior.

I look around and see amputees showing off new prosthetics. I overhear wives talking with other wives about the organizations where they got local help. I hear Veterans talking about life with PTSD—comparing symptoms. I see anxiety on a parent’s face when they talk about the stress of the injury on their kids, as well as relief when they talk to an organization in our Community Support Network. I see folks connecting with their greater Army Family—learning they are not alone. It’s a powerful week for all involved.

I think delegate spouse Regina Hill summed it up best when she told me, “Participating in the AW2 Symposium is very important for us for many reasons. It helps us heal by sharing our story, as well as giving us the sense of helping make this road better for other Families facing similar situations. Allen and I both feel that if we don’t share our own story, we can’t expect for things to get fixed that we have struggled with throughout this journey. We hope that by sharing our personal struggles and accomplishments, we will shed light on some things that need fixed and share the blessings we have received that others may not know about.”

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