I Am Here. I Am Ready to Help.

By Patty Sands, WTC Stratcom

Those were the words of Chaplain Steinberg of the U.S. Army Medical Command (MEDCOM) after the last 2010 quarterly AW2 Community Support Network conference call. The call focused on supporting Families during the recovery of AW2 Soldiers and Veterans and included a panel of guests including COL Greg Gadson, AW2 Director; Thomas Webb, WTC Deputy to the Commander; Jeff Cox, AW2 Advocate and social worker; and two AW2 Family members. Many more statements of support were heard at the conclusion of the call by the organizations that participated.

The catalyst for those strong statements came from hearing firsthand the challenges faced by the AW2 Families. AW2 spouses Diana Hume and Lisa Krohnke discussed their personal challenges and future goals, as well as specific ways the AW2 Community Support Network participants could assist to make a difference.

“The war is not over for our Family,” said Hume. “There is never a normal day with PTSD. It has not gotten better and the impact is to the whole Family.”

Krohnke also underscored the need for local support as she and her Family feel very isolated. She gave examples of educational issues with her children and financial concerns.

Hume brought the conversation to a close saying, “I don’t know what I would have done without AW2, but there is so much more to be done.”

The impact of the stories as told by the AW2 Family members was compelling and brought tears to my eyes. Hume and Krohnke both spoke in heartfelt terms that were very powerful. Their stories were different but similar in many respects. Each speaker was eloquent and detailed the challenges they faced and the isolation they felt. Without question, we all were very aware of the level of exhaustion they felt. It was a gift of time that they gave to be with us.

From an overall perspective, the problems are complex and varied. Sadly, we all knew there is no one “band aid” to fix things. COL Gadson said, “The Army and VA cannot do it all. It will take all of us working together to make a difference.”

The goal of this conference call was communicating the needs of Families to the Network organizations and to learn best practices from each other. Several participants explained the specific services they offer and engaged in a conversation about ways to connect with individual Soldiers, Veterans, and Families who can benefit from their support.

Thank you to all participants for the largest conference call turnout.

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