By Caitlin Morrison, WTC Communications Division
Retired Staff Sgt. Paul Roberts is a two-time Warrior Games medalist, a father of two, a federal employee and a proud member of the U.S. Army Wounded Warrior Program (AW2). In the summer of 2009, Roberts was serving in Afghanistan when his truck was hit with an IED in a small ambush attack.
“I hit the windshield, and I was unconscious,” remembered Roberts, who sustained severe second- and third-degree burns and was the only survivor from the truck. “When I woke up, my face was on fire, the fire started eating through my gloves.” He was medically evacuated to Landstuhl, Germany and then to Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC) in San Antonio, Texas, where he was introduced to AW2 and his first AW2 Advocate, Kimmy Davis.
During his recovery at BAMC, Roberts participated in the Operation Warfighter (OWF) internship program at the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Though he was separating from the Army, Roberts was determined to continue to serve his country by working for the government. While at BAMC, Roberts also participated in wheelchair basketball, playing for the San Antonio Spurs wheelchair basketball team and for the Center for the Intrepid. “Wheelchair basketball was instrumental in my recovery and transition,” reflected Roberts. “It gave me a sense of purpose and a sense of drive.”
In 2012, Roberts medically retired from the Army and relocated to Washington, D.C., where he met his new local AW2 Advocate, Ayandria Barry. Barry signed Roberts up for federal job fairs and trainings to conduct practice interviews and help with his resume. He found a position with the Department of Justice and has been working there ever since. “I feel lucky that I had wonderful people at the Army Wounded Warrior Program help me transition from the Army to civilian life,” said Roberts.
Along with career and education planning, AW2 Advocates work with Soldiers and Veterans to navigate federal institutions, assist with financial planning and find local resources. Specifically, Barry secured a special lawnmower for the Roberts’ yard that accommodated the burns on Roberts’ legs. Roberts also needed a special wheelchair to train for and participate in the Warrior Games, which Barry obtained as well. Today, the Roberts Family considers Barry a staple around their household, not only as an AW2 Advocate, but also as a friend.
Editors Note: 2014 marks the 10th anniversary of the U.S. Army Wounded Warrior Program (AW2). Read more about AW2’s decade of impact with more than 19,000 severely wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers, Veterans, their Families and Caregivers at http://www.wtc.army.mil/announcements/aw2_10th_anniversary.html.