By COL Jim Rice, AW2 Director
It’s hard to believe that it is already time for me to leave AW2; I don’t think three years have ever passed so quickly for me. There have been plenty of changes both in the program and those who help make it run, but as I have said from day one, if we keep our focus on the Soldiers and Families everything else will work out right.
As I look back, the positive spirit I have seen—in the AW2 population, in the headquarters staff, and most importantly the Advocates in the field—is what stands out and what I’ll take with me. Although I have seen many staff come and go, each valued team member was replaced with an equally energetic and dedicated professional who seemed to meet every need no matter how tough the task. It is great to know that so many people are lining up to support our wounded warriors.
AW2 has been effective because of the dedication of the Soldiers, DA civilians, and contractors who consistently pull in the same direction to improve the lives of our wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers, Veterans, and Families. I can’t stress enough how difficult that growth has been—from about 2,100 to over 7,200 Soldiers and Veterans—a number I don’t think even the most conservative of us would have imagined when the program kicked off more than six years ago. I appreciate everyone’s teamwork during this dramatic growth spurt, to make this program, and ultimately our wounded warriors, successful.
With this growth there is still much left to do—some of it particularly heavy lifting. That is why the Army selected LTC (P) Greg Gadson to carry this program forward. He is an inspiring Soldier and leader, who has lived the warrior ethos and knows AW2 and the Wounded Warrior Lifecycle as few of us ever will. We continue to be an Army at war, with nearly nine years of boots on the ground in Afghanistan and casualty numbers still increasing.
I will always remember my time with AW2 and its outstanding Soldiers, Veterans, and Families who despite their own challenges continuously seek improvement for those who are certain to follow. As the program moves forward, I have no doubt AW2 will continue to provide the required expertise, passion, and excellence—For As Long As It Takes!