Breaking Down Barriers through Adaptive Sports

By LuAnn Georgia, WTC Stratcom

Swimmers and non-swimmers alike were able to participate in tubing fun at Fort Belvoir, Va. Wounded Soldier Jordan Knox along with Shelly Neal, spouse of retired Soldier William Neal, enjoy a few laughs on an exhilarating spin around Tompkins Basin.

Swimmers and non-swimmers alike were able to participate in tubing fun at Fort Belvoir, Va. Wounded Soldier Jordan Knox along with Shelly Neal, spouse of retired Soldier William Neal, enjoy a few laughs on an exhilarating spin around Tompkins Basin.

Tompkins Basin, Fort Belvoir, Va., was the site for a group of wounded, ill, or injured Soldiers, Veterans, their Families and Caregivers to gather for some fun in the sun and water activities.

Two Top Mountain Adaptive Sports Foundation and Team River Runner (both non-profit participants in Community Support Network) joined forces to offer a day of tubing, water skiing, sailing, flat-water kayaking, and camaraderie as part of their adaptive sports initiatives.

Bill Dietrich, Executive Director of ‘Two Top’- a chapter of Disabled Sports USA, runs a summer and winter program which benefits wounded warriors and their Families and was on hand to discuss their program and the effects it has on the participants.

“I love helping people do things they didn’t realize they could do,” Said Mr. Dietrich. “Our program works with all sorts of disabilities.  There aren’t many we can’t help.  Some people are fearful when they first start out, but building trust is essential. It’s key to an individual letting their guard down, breaking down barriers, and allowing themselves to have fun.”

“Getting everyone together and helping them try new things or just seeing them enjoy themselves offers a lot of rewards.” But according to Mr. Dietrich, “It’s not a one man show.  Without our incredible volunteers, these programs wouldn’t be possible.”

During the summer, water sport events are offered at different locations and are usually held a couple of times a month.  The summer programs are only available during the week days, in order to avoid the weekend crowds.  Reservations are required in order to properly plan and staff the events.  According to Dietrich, an ongoing challenge is getting enough volunteers together at one time, as the majority of volunteers still have regular jobs.  He added, “it takes between 8-10 people to properly staff for just one water skier.”

While summer activities are only offered during the week days, the bulk of winter activities are held on weekends. Snow skiing and snowboarding sports, including lessons, are offered at Two Top Mountain in Whitetail Resort in Mercersburg, Pa.

Dietrich, the 2012 recipient of the Army’s Spirit of Hope award is passionate about his program, the impact and joy it’s brought him as well as those he helps.  All programs are free to wounded, ill, or injured population.  “As long as I can continue to raise the money to fund the program, it will be free for our wounded warriors.”

For information about Two Top Mountain Adaptive Sports Foundation visit:   www.twotopadaptive.org.  You can find information about Team River Runner at www.TeamRiverRunner.org.

Behind the Scenes with Freedom Service Dogs

Trained “rescue dogs” give hope and help to those with life altering  disabilities. Freedom Service Dogs is a member of the WTC Community Support Network.

Trained “rescue dogs” give hope and help to those with life altering disabilities. Freedom Service Dogs is a member of the WTC Community Support Network. Photo provided by: Freedom Service Dogs Credit for additional information in article should be: Additional content provided by Stacey Candella, Freedom Service Dogs.

By:  LuAnn Georgia, WTC STRATCOM
Recently, while at the 2013 Warrior Games in Colorado Springs, I had the privilege of talking with Walter Ernst of Freedom Service Dogs (FSD), a member of the WTC Community Support Network.  FSD is one of many Community Support Network organizations connecting wounded, ill, or injured Soldiers and Veterans with service dogs.

Ernst, a retired Air Force pilot, has been serving on the FSD board of directors since 2010.  He agreed to answer some questions about FSD, how they operate and the clients they serve.  He spoke openly and passionately about how FSD is making a difference in the lives of those with disabilities.

Q.  How did FSD get started?

A.  FSD is a Denver-based non-profit, Assistance Dogs International (ADI) certified organization that provides certified service dogs to clients at no charge.  It was founded in 1987 by a husband and wife team, Michael and PJ Roche.  Mike, a paramedic, was severely injured during an ambulance run, rendering him a quadriplegic.  As a canine obedience trainer, his wife recognized how an assistance dog would enable Mike to regain his independence and enhance his mobility.  Inspired by their own success with a trained dog, the Roches founded FSD to offer increased independence to others with disabilities.

Q.  Tell me how FSD gets their dogs.

A.  We get our dogs from shelters in several of the western states.  The dog’s ages vary between one-to-two years, weigh between 50-90 lbs and are typically mixed breeds because their life span is longer.  We have a wide variety of mixed breeds in training but we prefer dogs that are a Retriever mix because they’re smart.

Q.  What is the screening and training process for dogs in your program? 

A.  When we first get a dog, we keep it isolated from other new dogs, to do a medical evaluation and personality assessment.  If the dog passes the initial evaluation, they go into a four-level training program which lasts 7-12 months.  They start by learning basic commands and progress on to advanced training and custom tasks.  On weekends while in training, we foster the dogs out to approved, volunteer homes so we can keep them socialized.

Our dogs are trained to assist people with different types of mobility challenges such as spinal cord injuries, stroke victims, muscular dystrophy and multiple sclerosis, as well post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), and children with autism and Down syndrome.

Once a person is approved for a dog there’s a 12 – 18 month lead time from the initial request to when they actually receive their companion.  About 40 percent of those on our wait list are servicemembers.

Q.  How many dogs do you process throughout a year?

A.  About one out of every three dogs makes it through our program at an average cost to FSD of $25,000 per dog.  We rescue over 100 dogs each year and at any given time, we have between 35-45 dogs in training at our campus in Englewood.  Those that don’t make it through the program are put up for adoption. We don’t euthanize any of our animals.

Q.  How long are owners allowed to keep their dogs?

A.  Our clients keep their dogs for the lifetime of the animal, but when the dog becomes too old to perform tasks, it is retired and we provide a ‘successor’ dog for that client.

Q.  How do you fund your program?

A.  Our funding comes from private donations so there is an ongoing concern about how are we going to continue to operate?  Creating awareness is vital to our existence and because we don’t charge our clients, we are always looking for sponsors and ways to raise money to offset our costs.

FSD has a full time training staff, but one way they have found to control costs is to rely on dependable volunteers and the Colorado Prison Trained K9 Companion Program (PTKCP) to help in the initial stages of training the dogs.  In addition, once a dog is matched with a client, FSD has a hands-on program known as “Train the Trainer”.  This program entails a 2 ½ week training course to teach the client or owner how to interact with and continue to train their dog once they have taken them home.

Q.  What is the most frustrating part of being involved with a non-profit such as yours?

A. The bureaucracy, lack of communication and funding can make things tough.

Q.  What do you find to be the most rewarding part of this program?

A.  The graduation ceremony.  We have three-to-four ceremonies a year to celebrate the successful placement of dogs with their owners.  To see the bond they share can be very emotional.

Thank you to Mr. Ernst and Freedom Service Dogs for providing some insight into their program.  If you would like more information about Freedom Service Dogs please visit their website at www.freedomservicedogs.org.

Disclaimer:  Refer to Army Directive 2013-01 for information and guidelines on “Service” and “Therapy” dogs. 

Local Resources for Soldiers and Veterans

By LuAnn Georgia, WTC Stratcom
We are pleased to announce six new members in the Community Support Network. These organizations offer local resources and connections to help better the lives of wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers, Veterans, their Families, and Caregivers.  Click on the links below to learn more about them and the types of products and services they provide.

1.  Paws 4 Independence

Website:  www.paws4independence.com

Type of Organization:  Service Dog Organizations

Description: Paws 4 Independence is a non-profit organization that specializes in training and providing service dogs to Veterans, adults, and children with disabilities, adults and children with diabetes, psychiatric issues, and seizure disorders.

2.  Brain Injury Alliance of Connecticut

Website:  www.biact.org 

Type of Organization:  Resource Databases

Description:  The Brain Injury Association of Connecticut (BIAC) is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing support and information to survivors of brain injury, their Families and the community. Programs and services include a toll free helpline that directs callers to resources and providers and support groups throughout Connecticut for survivors of brain injuries and outreach and education for Families, Caregivers, and Veteran’s Families, on a variety of topics related to living with a brain injury.

3.  Rainier Therapeutic Riding

Website:  www.rtriding.org

Type of Organization:  Other:  Therapeutic Horsemanship

Description: Rainier Therapeutic Riding provides horsemanship services to wounded active-duty and Veteran servicemembers and their Families.  Rainier Therapeutic Riding helps heroes struggling to cope with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), combat injuries, mental health challenges, and other visible and invisible wounds of war.

4.  Johnny’s New Hope, Inc.

Website:  www.johnnysnewhope.org

Type of Organization: Assistance with Federal Benefits; Care Packages, Letters and Messages, and Moral Support; Housing Assistance; Physical Rehabilitative Support; Retirement and Transition; Services for Families, Children, and Caregivers

Description: Johnny’s New Hope is a Veteran owned organization whose primary mission is to provide housing for military Veterans and their Families.  Cabins are available for emergency housing to get heroes back on their feet.  Johnny’s New Hope also provides food, clothing, and home renovations.

5.  Therapy Achievements

Website:  www.reachTA.com

Type of Organization:  Physical Rehabilitative Support

Description:  Therapy Achievements provides out-patient occupational, physical and speech therapy services for people with neurological, orthopedic, or pain conditions.  There are programs which address balance and movement, speech and swallowing, swelling from edema and lymphedema, driving rehabilitation and adaptive technology and seating. Services are provided by therapists with advanced training.  Therapy Achievements is dedicated to helping people re-gain access to their community and to maximize their independence.

6.  VetsYoga  (aka  Yatra Yoga International)

Website:  www.vetsyoga.com

Type of Organization:  Support Roster; Mental Wellness and Counseling; Physical Rehabilitative Support; Retirement and Transition; Services for Families, Children, and Caregivers

Description:   VetsYoga offers an alternative approach to coping with combat stress and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) through an instructional DVD that includes easy variations which can be practiced in the privacy of home. The material and training focuses on strength, flexibility, and relaxation. The DVD is available for purchase online at a 50% discount available to Veterans with the coupon code.

To learn more about the Warrior Transition Command Community Support Network and to view a complete list of member organizations, visit http://www.wtc.army.mil/community/.

WTC Community Support Network New Organization Summary

By LuAnn Georgia, WTC Stratcom
There are five new members in the Community Support Network. These organizations offer local resources and connections to help better the lives of wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers, Veterans, their Families, and Caregivers.  Click on the links below to learn more about them and the types of products and services they provide.

  • PRIDE Industries

Website:  www.prideindustries.com

Type of Organization:  Career Training, Education, Human Resources Support, and Employment Opportunities

Description: PRIDE Industries is a nonprofit organization and leading employer of people with disabilities. By partnering with businesses and government agencies, PRIDE creates meaningful jobs for the disabled work force, while providing first-rate manufacturing and service solutions for companies and organizations nationwide.

  • Brain Injury Association of Washington

Website: www.braininjurywa.org 

Type of Organization: Assistance with Federal Benefits, Resource Databases, Services for Families, Children, and Caregivers, and Connecting Individuals to Community Resources

Description: The Brain Injury Association of Washington (BIAWA) is a non-profit organization founded in 1982 and was created as a system of support for those affected by brain injury.  The organization’s mission is to increase public awareness, support, and hope for those affected by brain injury through education, assistance, and advocacy.

  • United Oil Packers

Website:  http://www.unitedoilcompany.com

Type of Organization:  Career Training, Education, Human Resources Support, and Employment

Description: United Oil Packers, founded more than 50 years ago, is a leader in the edible oils and fats industry. The proven philosophies of the organization include honest, hard work, consistent reliability, and products that offer quality and value. United Oil Packers strives to help wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers and Veterans by providing employment opportunities.

  • Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet

Website:  www.guardianangelsforsoldierspet.org

Type of Organization: Family Pets

Description: Guardian Angels for Soldier’s Pet is a 501c3 non-profit service available in all 50 states and is available to all armed force branches.  Comprised of an all volunteer staff, the mission of the organization is to foster pets in safe homes with caring individuals; and to support reuniting pets with owners following deployment related to a combat, peace-keeping, or humanitarian mission, or an unforeseen medical and/or homeless hardship situation. There is no cost for the service, but the pet’s owner is asked to cover any pet related expenses.

  • Unitek College

Website:  www.unitekcollege.edu

Type of Organization:  Career Training, Education, Human Resources Support, and Employment

Description: Unitek College is an accredited healthcare and business training school with the main campus located in Fremont, CA.  Among the many courses offered, there are several Veterans Affairs approved healthcare training programs including Vocational Nursing, Registered Nursing, and Bachelors of Science in Nursing.  Online courses are available.  Unitek College was named by Victory Media to the 4th annual 2013 Military Friendly Schools R list.

About the Community Support Network

The Community Support Network was created based on requests from severely wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers, Veterans, their Families and Caregivers.  Soldiers stated that connection with local communities and community leaders are essential for their success and reintegration.  For additional information, visit the Community Support Network webpage.

Do you know of an organization that wants to assist wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers, Veterans, their Families, and Caregivers?  We are happy to provide membership information to these organizations based on your requests and referrals. Please email contact information to the Community Support Network at: usarmy.pentagon.medcomwtc.mbx.aw2communitysupportnetwork@mail.mil.

No Cost, On-Line Training at Syracuse University for Post 9-11 Veterans and Soldiers

1LT Bryan Upham, Fort Belvoir Warrior Transition Unit, prepares for his professional future.

By Luann Georgia, WTC Stratcom
The School of Information Studies at Syracuse University, a member of the Community Support Network*, is offering a “Veterans Technology Program” to post-9/11 Veterans and Soldiers with a minimum of a high school diploma.  The program is a non-credit, certificate program that is offered at no cost.  There are four certificate programs to select from.  Each course is delivered online, which enables students to participate from any location and at a time that is convenient to their schedule.

The program is designed to help post-9/11 Soldiers and Veterans create development plans which are specific to individual skill sets, interests, and goals, as well as gain understanding of and insight into the corporate culture of global companies. Program participants learn to effectively prepare for and execute job searches, as well as resume and cover letter writing. The technical aspects of the Veterans Technology Program allow participants to focus on a specific concentration of their choice and, where applicable, acquire industry certification.

For additional information about the program and instructions on how to apply, log onto: http://get-vet.syr.edu

*Community Support Network has a variety of providers on the WTC and AW2 website that are available to assist in the career transition process. These supporters are actively engaged in helping the wounded, ill and injured Soldiers, Veterans and Family members.  They offer opportunities on training, education, apprenticeships, certification and more.

 

Community Support Network Organization Uses Tattoos to Boost Confidence

An employee with Global Tattoo Orthotic Prosthetic Innovations (GTOPI) adds finishing touches to the Purple Heart medal design on a prosthetic leg. GTOPI is a member of the U.S. Army Warrior Transition Command Community Support Network.

Editor’s Note: Global Tattoo Orthotic Prosthetic Innovations is a participant in the WTC Community Support Network, formerly known as the AW2 Community Support Network.

By: WTC Stratcom
Headquartered in Port Orchard, WA, Global Tattoo Orthotic Prosthetic Innovations (GTOPI) was founded in 2008 by Dan Horkey, who lost the lower half of his leg during a motorcycle accident when he was 21.

In 2004, the tattooed prosthetic idea started when Horkey began fabrication training at a company that makes prostheses and braces. Within a week of training, he had fabricated his own personal prosthetic socket, and applied his first tattoo. Two years later, he tattooed his prosthetic again but with artwork that reflected his personality. “I put flames on my socket and the compliments from strangers made my self-esteem go through the roof,” Horkey said. “I wear it with pride, and I wanted that for others, to feel whole again.”

GTOPI offers state of the art, patent-pending methods such as airbrushing, fine art hand-brushing, pin-striped designs, and painting with automotive colors for prosthetics. Some of the methods also include custom painted automotive finishes and then airbrushing or hand-painting the design of choice. GTOPI uses materials that are safe for children and adults, durable, and of professional quality.

If you are interested in a prosthetic tattoo, the wounded Soldier or Veteran can contact GTOPI at (360) 895-1976, and they will get your order started. Currently, the services are a covered service at 100% with a qualified consult prescription when written by a Veteran Affairs (VA) physician or a VA Psychiatrist. For more information, visit http://www.gtopi.com.

Do you know of an organization that wants to assist wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers, Veterans, and their Families? If so, please email the WTC Community Support Network at the email address below. We welcome your recommendations and referrals.

Send organization referrals to usarmy.pentagon.medcom-wtc.mbx.communitysupportnetwork@mail.mil

Continuing Education Assists Soldiers Transition to Civilian Life

By LuAnn Georgia, WTC Stratcom
This year’s Warrior Care Month theme is focused on helping Soldiers experience a smooth transition from military to civilian life. The Community Support Network offers educational resources to help wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers make that transition.

As the time approaches to start planning for re-entrance into civilian life, the choices and time constraints can be a bit overwhelming. Deadlines, information overload, lack of information, physical and emotional limitations, and personal insecurities can be hurdles that can stop anyone from moving forward. Identifying these obstacles, and defining opportunities and workarounds can offer freedom and peace of mind, as well as help you focus on the goal.

Why are we focused on Education?  Education is all encompassing and applies to more than just a university degree.

What do we mean by Education?  Education can include one or all of the following:

  • Information regarding professional opportunities, requirements, and projected employment demands.
  • Updating knowledge and training to translate military skill sets into qualifications that can be applied in the civilian job market.
  • Information, education, and training on how to own and run a business (entrepreneurship).
  • Training for wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers on how to research potential employers, write an effective resume, and fine-tune interviewing skills.

Formal education, training, certification, and apprenticeships are available for wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers who may want to advance their knowledge or to re-define their career goals. The Community Support Network has a variety of actively engaged providers on the WTC website that are available to assist in the career transition process. For more information log into http://www.wtc.army.mil/aw2/community_support/index.html and take a look at providers that are available.

AW2 Family Continues to Serve Country and Wounded

By Emily Oehler, WTC Stratcom
Every time I talk with Gina Hill on the phone, I feel better. When I look at pictures of her kids, I smile. When I hear about her wounded husband’s progress, I am thankful. When I hear that they are receiving a new home in a place that is less disruptive for Allen’s PTSD, I am comforted. When I learned that Gina started a non-profit to help build stronger community connections between emergency responders, servicemembers, and local support programs, I am amazed. Knowing this combat-wounded Family makes we want to be a better person and do more!

AW2 spouse Gina Hill starts non-profit, Silent Siren, to build support community for Soldiers, Veterans, and Families facing PTSD. Photo Courtesy of Mike Parker

Allen Hill was serving in Iraq in 2007 when his truck was hit by an improvised explosive device (IED).  At the 2010 AW2 Symposium press conference, Gina said, “While the majority of Allen’s physical, or visible, wounds have healed, our Family still struggles daily with the psychological wounds. Often times, these are called the invisible wounds, but I have a hard time calling them that, for they are very visible to anyone who spends any amount of time with him.”

Like most Army Families, the Hills never give up.

The Hills worked at the AW2 Symposium (link) to help the Army identify areas of improvement for warrior care—and provide recommendations. Gina Hill presented to Congress  for Mental Illness Awareness Month to increase awareness of the impact of PTSD on the entire Family. And now, they are launching Silent Siren, already a member of the Community Support Network.

The mission of Silent Siren is to build strong community collaborations that enhance and expand existing community crisis intervention/supports for military service individuals and their Families. They believe that the following actions and approaches will help achieve this mission:

• Empower persons supporting an individual with PTSD to utilize local emergency support services
• Educate emergency support personnel and military Families and caregivers about PTSD and the fundamental approaches to responding to PTSD crisis situations.
• Engage local community counseling & support resources that can be readily available to navigate Family members and caregivers through crisis situations.

Silent Siren consists of 3 core elements:

1. Establishment of a PTSD registry for community members with PTSD and market the registry to each participating community.
2. Utilization of Silent Siren to help train emergency services personnel on effective emergency response approaches when responding to PTSD crisis intervention calls.
3. Implement, with the assistance of Silent Siren, a Family/caregiver support system. This system should include professional mental health resources available to respond alongside and emergency responder to help a Family navigate the complexities of a mental health/PTSD crisis situation.

You can get to know the Hill Family a bit tonight, Friday, November 4, on Extreme Home Makeover. Knowing them will show you firsthand how dynamic our Soldiers, Veterans, and Families are—to heed the call to serve in a time of war, and continue to give back once wounded.

It is From the Heart

By Patricia C. Sands, WTC Stratcom

Twenty-five organizations convened at the Community Support Exhibit Hall at the 2011 AW2 Symposium to share information about their local support to wounded warriors and their Families.

Twenty-five organizations stood up to be part of the Community Support Exhibit Hall at the 2011 Army Wounded Warrior Program (AW2) Symposium, and more wanted to attend. It’s a very heartfelt gesture when one considers the commitment in time and resources it takes to attend. However, this was not business as usual.

When companies and organizations attend events they have a goal in mind, usually to make money and expand their market. However, these 25 organizations are not at the 2011 AW2 Symposium to make money. Their goal is to see how they can serve our wounded warriors and their Families more effectively. They want to meet the community and the leaders of the Warrior Transition Command and AW2. They want to get the word out that they are here to help and support wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers, Veterans, and their Families.

When reviewing the list of participating organizations below, please remember that their services and products are either free or are covered by insurance. Their efforts are from the heart.

Who are these generous organizations? They are as varied as the individual needs of the Soldiers, Veterans, and Families they support. They also run the gambit of expertise that cover each of the lifecycles that a wounded warrior works through. In addition, many are members of the AW2 Community Support Network, a group of organizations that are needed and vital to the AW2 Soldier, Veteran, and Family as they recover and assimilate back into the community.

I encourage wounded warriors and their Families to click the links below and get to know them.

It doesn’t end with giving wounded warriors and their Families a link to each organization’s website. They will know more about each of these organizations as we follow them through the next year. We will detail their stories through articles and blogs. The more wounded warriors and their Families know, the more they can help. It is all about networking and communicating.

Maybe you, as a wounded warrior or Family member, will be the vital link to refer a resource to the AW2 Community Support Network. Maybe you will be the one to connect another wounded warrior to a much needed resource. The Army cannot do it all. It takes the whole community to work together to make a difference.

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.

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