Identify Your Pooh Bear

By Alan Morales, WTC Stratcom

AW2 Symposium delegates and caregivers (left to right) Michelle Ash and Jamie Anderson participated in the caregiver resiliency training.

Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind.
“Pooh!” he whispered.
“Yes, Piglet?”
“Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s paw.
“I just wanted to be sure of you.”—Winnie the Pooh, A.A. Milne

I was sitting in the back of the room when this quote was shared with Family member and caregiver delegates at the 2011 AW2 Symposium caregiver resiliency training on Sunday. After reading the quote on the projection screen, I grinned and reflected on the warm feeling I got when I read Winnie the Pooh as a child. Around the room, many caregivers also smiled while others looked puzzled as if they asked themselves, “What does Winnie the Pooh have to do with resiliency?”

The training, taken from the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Program, mentioned this quote to illustrate an important aspect of resiliency—trust. Resiliency trainer and AW2 staff member Venus Bradley explained that everyone’s life is based on relationships. More importantly, people’s lives are strengthened by those people they trust the most. Whether that person is a Soldier, mother, friend, or coworker, there is someone in each person’s life that they trust.

“Who is your Pooh?” asked Bradley.

Many of the participants laughed in the room, myself included, when Bradley asked this question. But she hit on a point that lingered in my mind. Sometimes individuals don’t turn to their trusted loved ones when they are faced with challenges. Instead, they keep the problem close to their chest and try to solve their problems alone. This is particularly the case when the challenge is with a spouse.

The training intended to demonstrate that in times of trouble, one needs to be mindful of the “Poohs” in their lives. These trusted individuals are often the ones that can help identify the facts of the situation, find the positive, and develop a solution. Sometimes, they are a spouse and other times it might be a friend or a relative. Each situation calls for a different approach, and those you trust are often the ones who can help you figure out which approach is best.

I learned quite a bit from Bradley yesterday afternoon. I learned that self-awareness about relationships can be a powerful tool and that identifying the people you trust ahead of time can be helpful when you least expect it. I walked out of that room realizing that it’s okay to lean on someone else for help in times of trouble and I think most of the delegates did too. We weren’t meant to live life alone, and often the “Poohs” in our lives are the people who make us stronger.

Wounded Warriors Speak Up to Improve Warrior Care

By COL Gregory D. Gadson, AW2 Director

AW2 Director Gregory D. Gadson and AW2 Sergeant Major SGM Robert Gallagher cut the ribbon to open the Community Support Exhibit Hall during the first day of the 2011 AW2 Symposium.

It’s great to be in Orlando, FL this week meeting and visiting with our AW2 Soldiers, Veterans, and their Families. Today I had the privilege of welcoming almost 100 delegates to the seventh annual Army Wounded Warrior Program (AW2) Symposium. For those of you unfamiliar with this program, it is an opportunity for wounded warriors, their spouses, and their caregivers to have a voice in identifying and resolving issues that impact severely wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers and Veterans, and their Families.

The AW2 Symposium is part of the Army Family Action Plan process and a formal way to identify issues and recommend changes to senior Army leaders. In fact, past AW2 Symposium recommendations have resulted in an additional $10,000 in VA housing benefits; a monthly stipend for primary caregivers; and expanded Traumatic Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance coverage by adding TBI and paralysis in one limb as qualification criteria. Clearly, you can see that the group here this week has a huge responsibility to continue to positively influence the future of Army warrior care. Not to worry, they are dedicated and up to the task.

And, they have an interesting week ahead of them. This week is going to be a combination of hard work, sharing, and networking. We are going to look at issues, identify problems, provide feedback, and celebrate accomplishments. We’ll focus on ways to continue to improve, evolve, and better meet the needs of Soldiers, Veterans, Families, and caregivers. Bottom line – this week is about improving warrior care. Our delegates will be working long days, looking at issues that impact Soldiers, Veterans, and Families across the Army, and on Friday will brief top issues along with recommendations on how to resolve them to AW2, Warrior Transition Command, Medical Command, and Veterans Affairs leaders. We’ll also look at efficiencies, redundancies, and programs that may be obsolete. We want to maximize resources so that they serve the most people.

For the first time, we included delegates from the Warrior Transition Units in this process. BG Darryl A. Williams, Assistant Surgeon General and Commander, Warrior Transition Command, and I believe strongly that combining the experiences and recommendations of these populations will significantly strengthen our alliance and improve our way ahead. We’re similar populations who can learn from and support each other.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that while we are working extremely hard this week, we are also Family-focused. Many children accompanied their parents, and boy, do we have a great week in store for them! Their only job is to play hard and have a good time. The National Military Family Association very graciously offered to host an urban adventure camp that includes swimming, horseback riding, arts and crafts, and lots of other fun activities.

As for me–you all know that I’m a wounded warrior myself. I’m also a firm believer that there is no one better suited to identify the challenges and recommend solutions than those who live and breathe the Army Warrior Care and Transition Program. There are always ways to improve and I’m confident this group of delegates is up for the challenge.

I encourage you to check back on the AW2 blog, AW2 Facebook page, and WTC Twitter page for more updates on the AW2 Symposium throughout the week.

AW2 Symposium—Kids Serve Too!

By Jim Wenzel, WTC Stratcom

The Labarca-Cruz Family attend the 2010 AW2 Symposium in San Antonio, TX.

April, Month of  the Military Child, is a time for the Army to recognize the character and maturity demonstrated by nearly two million military children as they experience their parents’ frequent displacement, long separation, and, at times, the visible and invisible wounds and scars of training, deployment, and conflict.

The Army Wounded Warrior Program (AW2) recognizes that military kids of Warriors in Transition accept the shared efforts to provide care and strength to their parents. This demonstrates that these kids also share in serving the Army and the nation.

As AW2 identifies delegates for this summer’s AW2 Symposium, I want to stress the role AW2 kids play in the process—and it’s not just fun and games in Orlando. As parents lend their experienced voice in sorting through major issues affecting the Army’s care and transition of Warriors in Transition, their young children will have fun in daycare while older children will find adventure at a camp organized by Operation Purple®. The teenagers will also be given the opportunity to participate in an informal focus group that will allow them to discuss and select major issues important to military children of wounded warriors.

AW2 is about halfway through the process of identifying and selecting AW2 Soldiers, Veterans, and Families to speak on behalf of Army wounded warriors. At Symposium, we anticipate the presence and active participation of our military children. We will give them opportunities for fun as well as allow their voice to be heard—we truly believe they serve too.

If you are interested in taking advantage of this opportunity for both you and your Family, please go to the AW2 Symposium homepage for more information or contact your Advocate.

Calling AW2 Soldiers, Veterans, and Family members to Attend the 2011 AW2 Symposium

By COL Greg Gadson, AW2 Director

Attention AW2 Soldiers, Veterans, and Family members. AW2 is now accepting applications for delegates to attend this year’s AW2 Symposium in Orlando, FL, on July 17-22, at the Rosen Centre Hotel.  As a delegate, you will identify and develop recommendations regarding current issues impacting the health, recovery, rehabilitation, transition, and welfare of AW2 Soldiers, Veterans, Family members, and caregivers. These recommendations will be forwarded through the Army Family Action Plan (AFAP) for potential presentation to senior Army leadership.

No other branch in the Armed Services has a similar process. Your participation in the AW2 Symposium has the potential to shape legislation and policies affecting wounded, ill, and injured, warriors from every branch of service. You don’t have to take my word for it. Read more about last year’s AW2 Symposium and the 3 issues that were included in the “Top 5 AFAP Conference Issues” at the 2011 Worldwide Conference in February.

Working through these issues requires a great deal of time and focus. To assist AW2 Symposium delegates, AW2 will offer daycare for children under 6 and will team up with the National Military Family Association (NMFA) to host Operation Purple®—an urban adventure camp for children ages six to seventeen. Delegates will also enjoy an AW2 Community Support Network exhibit hall, Family Night, and many other exciting events.

I highly encourage you to submit an issue and apply to become a delegate. If you would like more information or have questions about the AW2 Symposium, please contact your AW2 Advocate, visit, or call (877) 393-9058.

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