By COL Jim Rice, AW2 Director
At each of the last six AW2 Symposiums, we’ve given the delegates a mission: to be the voice of the thousands of wounded warriors, their Families, and their caregivers. Like delegates in years past, 2010 Symposium delegates accepted the mission and got the job done.
On Friday morning, each of the five delegate focus groups briefed senior officials from Army, Veterans Affairs (VA), and other agencies on their top issues. AW2 Veteran John Wright, spokesman for the careers focus group, got the session off to a great start when he plopped Veteran Scott Stephenson’s prosthetic on the podium and told the audience that his group “had a leg up on the rest of the delegation.”
After the briefing, the delegates voted to prioritize the top issues facing Army wounded warriors, their Families, and their caregivers. This year, the delegates selected the following things to be addressed:
- Medically retired service member’s eligibility for Concurrent Receipt of Disability Pay (CRDP)
- Post 9/11 GI Bill transferability to dependents for all medically retired servicemembers
- Mandatory post-traumatic stress disorder/traumatic brain injury (PTSD/TBI) training for VA healthcare staff
- Transfer option from Temporary Disability Retired List (TDRL) to Permanent Disability Retired (PDR) for wounded warriors
- Benefits and entitlements information to wounded warrior primary caregivers
Senior Army, MEDCOM, and VA leaders listened firsthand to the delegates talk about these issues and committed to work hard to resolve them.
Now that the votes are in, my team and I will get to work. We’ll coordinate with other programs within the Army, throughout DOD, and other federal agencies, especially those within VA. In addition to their commitment, I promise that AW2 will do all it can to continue to provide personalized support for as long as it takes. It’s our honor and privilege.
This week at the AW2 Symposium, there was a lot of hard work by our delegates—65 severely wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers, Veterans, and their Families. They opened up about experiences they don’t typically share, they tackled hard issues facing wounded warriors, and came together to prioritize areas for change to improve things for those who come next—all while dealing with their own ongoing medical challenges such as burns, amputations, TBI, and PTSD. I was proud of how they continued to serve the Army. Their efforts will impact generations to come.
I thought AW2 spouse Loree Pone put it well, she said, “Delegates had a lot of compassion for other peoples’ issues—we’re here to make things better for the wounded Soldiers that follow. I know that some of these issues will take time to resolve, but I know that the Army will work to fix them as quickly as possible.”
I appreciate all the 2010 Symposium delegates, as well as delegates from all previous AW2 Symposiums, for taking the time to come and tell the Army how we can continue to improve the care we provide to severely wounded warriors and their Families. We heard your concerns, and now it’s time to take action.