By BG Darryl A. Williams, WTC Command
I arrived in Orlando today to join the AW2 leadership and staff at the seventh annual AW2 Symposium and am already impressed. This program offers wounded warriors, their spouses and caregivers the opportunity to have a voice in identifying and resolving issues that impact severely wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers, Veterans, and their Families.
My first order of business was to lunch with the Family members and caregivers. I have to say–this group knows their business like nobody else. CSM Benjamin Scott was there with me, as well as COL Greg Gadson and SGM Robert Gallagher. They can attest to the energy and enthusiasm in that room. This group came prepared to champion causes related to finance, medical care, and Veterans Affairs benefits for our wounded warriors.
Those of you who know me know I always emphasize that as, commander, Warrior Transition Command, my staff, and I support wounded, injured, and ill Active Duty, Reserve, and National Guard Soldiers, Veterans, and their Families. I was glad to find representatives from all of these components at this lunch meeting and working as delegates at the AW2 Symposium.
And how I love getting out of the beltway! I can’t tell you how much I enjoy meeting people and hearing their personal stories–finding out what we’re getting right and where we need to make changes. What I found out today is that these people are excited about being here and having an opportunity to help shape the future in a positive way. Having said that, you won’t be surprised to learn they were especially excited and interested in resiliency training. They attended a session earlier this week and want more. They clearly make the connection that psychological fitness is just as important as physical fitness. We talked a lot about resiliency and about reducing stigma associated with seeking behavioral health care. COL Gadson reminded them that, as Soldiers and as military Families, we work as a team. No one does anything alone. Seeking help shows courage, that we are being honest with ourselves. I could tell this resonated with everyone in that room.
I let them know that training, education, and employment are my three top priorities for our WTU and AW2 Soldiers, Veterans, and Families. I want trained and committed cadre. I want to see our wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers get the education they need, whether about COAD or COAR programs or going back to college. I want to see them all successfully transition back to active duty or into the private sector with careers that match their interests and skills. These Soldiers should be trained, educated, and empowered—they deserve a soft place to land.
This was a great first day at my first AW2 Symposium. I look forward to hearing their top recommendations and being their voice with leaders back in Washington.