Meet AW2 Soldier Shenae Mitchell

By Caitlin Morrison, WTC Communications Division

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Spc. Shenae Mitchell addresses the Warrior Transition Command to launch the AW2 10th Anniversary commemoration.

While deployed in Afghanistan in June 2012 with the 82nd Airborne Division, Spc. Shenae Mitchell was crushed under 1,000 pounds of medical containers, called Hescro barriers. She sustained thirteen injuries that required intensive surgical treatment. After being medically evacuated from Afghanistan, Mitchell began her recovery and rehabilitation at the Fort Belvoir Warrior Transition Unit. At Fort Belvoir, she was immediately introduced to the U.S. Army Wounded Warrior Program (AW2) and her AW2 Advocate, Ayandria Barry.

During Mitchell’s recovery, Barry helped her navigate military residence training, including 496 hours of military correspondence courses. Mitchell has also completed 44 college credits toward an associate degree thus far during her recovery at Fort Belvoir. She credits Barry with anticipating questions and possible challenges and providing accurate answers every time. When Mitchell needed a tutor to retake her Armed Forces Classification Test (AFCT) to raise her General Technical (GT) score, Barry found her a tutor through a local program in just weeks. Barry would arrange a ride if Mitchell needed to travel off post to support her recovery and transition goals, such as going to tutoring sessions. If Mitchell couldn’t find a ride, Barry would provide transportation herself.

Barry and Mitchell’s relationship extends past assistance with completing coursework and finding tutors. “Ms. Barry has been supportive not only from the military aspect,” said Mitchell. “She would build my hope and my courage up.”

Mitchell plans to re-enlist in the Army with a new Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) and return to duty upon completing in-patient care. Barry supported Mitchell in submitting her paperwork to change her MOS to one more suited to her medical profile. She is currently waiting to hear whether she is approved for either of the two MOS options she has applied for: 27D (Paralegal) or 42A (Human Resource Assistant).

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.

Meet AW2 Veteran Karl Pasco

By Caitlin Morrison, WTC Communications Division

AW2 Veteran Karl Pasco and his daughter take a trip on the Austin Steam Train.

AW2 Veteran Karl Pasco and his daughter take a trip on the Austin Steam Train.

Retired Sgt. 1st Class Karl Pasco, a two-time Purple Heart recipient and avid shooting enthusiast, was injured on two separate deployments in Iraq. On his first deployment in 2004, his vehicle ran over an improvised explosive device (IED). After recovery, he redeployed to Iraq in 2006 and was hit by another IED. Among other injuries, Pasco sustained a shattered right leg, shrapnel in his left arm, ten broken ribs, three fractured vertebrae, a broken upper jaw, a bruised heart and shrapnel puncturing his chest. The first time he was injured, the US Army Wounded Warrior Program (AW2) had not yet been created and Pasco remembers having to navigate the recovery and transition process on his own. After his second attack, AW2 support began right away when he was recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He returned to his home state of Texas once major surgeries were completed to continue his recovery at Fort Hood.

Pasco has worked with a number of AW2 Advocates over the years. “They would challenge me to attain the goals that I set,” he said of all of his AW2 Advocates. One of the most important goals for Karl was to be able to shoot again. He told AW2 that he wanted to build his own shooting range and they said, “Well then do it!” Pasco found planning the project and actually constructing the range extremely therapeutic.

While at Fort Hood, he created his own internship with the ROTC program at Texas A&M University-Central Texas. Pasco knew that he did not want to spend his time at the Warrior Transition Unit (WTU) “sitting around,” so he went to work in their S3 operations as the Donations NCO and Activities NCO. He processed donations to the WTB for three years and helped coordinate activities for other wounded, ill and injured Soldiers at the WTB. Karl took many of his fellow WTB Soldiers hunting, fishing, four-wheeling, kayaking and more.

Pasco is currently a part-time student at Central Texas College, working towards his BA and MA. He has a very close relationship with his current AW2 Advocate, Carol Livengood, and takes pride in sending her updates on his rehabilitation progress. He sees Livengood quite often, as she works closely with another AW2 Advocate—his wife, Joy. Karl says of Joy, “she realized that she found a passion in her life that she didn’t realize—she wanted to help Soldiers.”

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.

Meet AW2 Veteran Paul Roberts

By Caitlin Morrison, WTC Communications Division

AW2 Veteran Paul Roberts celebrates the holidays with his Family.

AW2 Veteran Paul Roberts celebrates the holidays with his Family.

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.

Did You Know? What is an AW2 Advocate?

By Caitlin Morrison, WTC Communications Division

Retired Spc. Ira Brownridge Jr. with his Advocate, Melvin Kearney

Retired Spc. Ira Brownridge Jr. with his Advocate, Melvin Kearney

The U.S. Army Wounded Warrior Program (AW2) has more than 200 AW2 Advocates, located at most Army installations and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities. AW2 Advocates are dedicated to guiding eligible AW2 Soldiers and Veterans and their Families and Caregivers through recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration to achieve their personal goals, navigate government agencies and local resources, create financial plans, support education and career goals and anticipate challenges ahead. AW2 Advocates are often retired/former Soldiers, AW2 wounded warriors themselves, spouses of AW2 Soldiers and Veterans or individuals with professional backgrounds in the behavioral health and social work fields.

Each Soldier or Veteran entering the AW2 Program is paired with an AW2 Advocate to guide the Soldier throughout the recovery and transition process and toward achieving independence. AW2 Advocates counsel eligible AW2 Soldiers and Veterans and their Families/Caregivers regarding benefits information, career guidance, Continuation on Active Duty/Continuation on Reserve Duty (COAD/COAR), educational opportunities, financial audits, government agency coordination, local resources and tracking their Medical Evaluation Board (MEB) onto the Physical Evaluation Board (PEB).

AW2 Advocates are onsite at more than 60 VA locations, where they educate AW2 Soldiers and Veterans on how to navigate the VA system and ensure continuity of care as AW2 Soldiers transition out of the Army. AW2 Advocates collaborate with VA Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom (OEF/OIF) coordinators, help resolve appointment issues, VA benefits issues and facilitate applications for services such as the VA Adaptive Housing and Adaptive Vehicle grants and the Post-9/11 GI Bill. AW2 Advocates help transitioning Soldiers plan for a potential gap in between their Army pay and beginning their VA benefits and work with the VA to ensure they get their pay as quickly as possible.

AW2 Advocates assigned to Warrior Transition Units (WTUs) are engaged in the WTU Soldier’s mandated Comprehensive Treatment Plan (CTP) process. AW2 Families are an integral part of the CTP process, and AW2 Advocates facilitate conversations surrounding this process and the Family’s goals. They can help Families who are moving or traveling to the WTU with arranging housing, schooling and childcare. AW2 Advocates assist with applications for Special Compensation for Assistance with Activities of Daily Living (SCAADL) and Non-Medical Attendant (NMA).

AW2 Advocates are plugged in to the local communities and know all the different organizations that are available to support Soldiers, from locating job opportunities and scholarships to obtaining service dogs and adaptive transportation.

“Did You Know?” Series

We will post a blog every other week on the following five topics throughout our “Did You Know?” blog series during the AW2 10th Anniversary commemoration:
1) What is AW2?
2) AW2 Advocates
3) AW2 Career and Education
4) AW2 Pay and Benefits
5) VA Resources

Is there another topic you want us to cover in the future? Want to share your story? Post a comment here or email us at usarmy.pentagon.medcom-wtc.mbx.strategic-communications@mail.mil.

Ft. Belvoir Warrior Transition Battalion and Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness Training Center conduct resilience refresher workshop for unit MRTs

By Alissa L. Bookwalter, CSF2 Training Center Liaison Officer to Warrior Transition Command

Ashley Jenkins

Ms. Ashley Jenkins, a CSF2 Training Center Master Resilience Trainer-Performance Expert (MRT-PE), covers “Hunt the Good Stuff” with a Ft. Belvoir WTB MRT.

Resilience skills are an integral part of the Army’s Warrior Care and Transition Program (WCTP) for wounded, ill and injured Soldiers. Warrior Transition Command (WTC) also uses  resilience skills for Warrior Transition Unit (WTU) Families, Cadre and staff, ensuring that resilience training is offered at the unit level at all WTU’s – primarily though  Master Resilience Trainers. Master Resilience Trainers (MRTs) are selected by their command staff to attend a two-week MRT training course conducted by Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness (CSF2).

Once a certified MRT returns to their WTU, they develop a unit resilience training program and conduct resilience training for local Soldiers, Families, Cadre and staff at least once per quarter.  Local CSF2 Training Centers, staffed by CSF2 Master Resilience Trainers-Performance Experts (MRT-PEs), are available at the installation level to assist MRTs with training, resilience and performance enhancement skill refreshers and conducting two week MRT courses.

The Fort Belvoir Warrior Transition Battalion (WTB) recently conducted a Resilience Skills Refresher Workshop in conjunction with the National Capital Region (NCR) CSF2 Training Center.  All Fort Belvoir WTB MRTs and command staff attended the workshop that provided additional skills training and practice-teaching on two of the most heavily utilized resilience skills in the WTU – “Hunt the Good Stuff” and “Goal Setting.”

“As an attendee and participant, I observed the true benefits of resilience refresher training,” said Fort Belvoir’s WTB Command Sgt. Maj. Clark Charpentier. “Leaders must provide opportunities to equip MRTs with the skills necessary to be a force multiplier within their organizations.”

Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness Training Center MRT-PEs covered “Goal Setting” and “Hunt the Good Stuff” with unit MRTs.  After a brief refresher on the skills, the MRTs had the floor to demonstrate their knowledge and teaching abilities to the audience and Command team.

Michael Fairman, the National Capital Region CSF2 Training Center Manager noted that “keeping MRTs refreshed and engaged is critical to the success of the CSF2 program. As a CSF2 Training Center, we are equipped to provide MRTs with the tools that allow them to be successful.”

The Fort Belvoir WTB plans to continue Resilience Refresher Workshops once per quarter to keep unit MRTs current on skills.

For more information on CSF2 Training Centers and Resilience skills, please visit http://csf2.army.mil/index.html.

 

Did You Know? What is AW2

By Caitlin Morrison, WTC Communications Division

Did you know that the U.S. Army Wounded Warrior Program (AW2) was established 10 years ago to support severely wounded, ill and injured Soldiers, Veterans, their Families and Caregivers? AW2 is a major component of the Warrior Care and Transition Program (WCTP) under the U.S. Army Medical Command (MEDCOM) and the Warrior Transition Command (WTC). Over the last decade AW2 has supported more than 19,000 Soldiers and Veterans in navigating processes and procedures that open doors to services, resources and benefits.  These resources build and strengthen abilities to adapt to daily life and empower AW2 Soldiers and Veterans to regain their independence.

Today, Soldiers who qualify for AW2 are assigned to the program as soon as possible after arriving at a Warrior Transition Unit (WTU). AW2 supports these Soldiers and their Families throughout their recovery and transition, either back into duty or on to civilian life.

To qualify for AW2, a Soldier must suffer from wounds, illness or injuries incurred in the line of duty after September 10, 2001, and receive or expect to receive at least a 30 percent rating from the Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES) for one or more of the conditions listed below, or receive a combines 50 percent IDES rating for any other combat/combat-related condition:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Severe traumatic brain injury (TBI)
  • Severe loss of vision/blindness
  • Severe hearing loss/deafness
  • Fatal / incurable disease with limited life expectancy
  • Loss of limb
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Permanent disfigurement
  • Severe burns
  • Severe paralysis

Upon entry to the program, each AW2 Soldier and Veteran is paired with one of the more than 200 AW2 Advocates who guides the Soldier throughout the recovery and transition process and toward achieving independence. Together they collaborate to set goals for the Soldier’s and Family’s future to meet the personal needs and abilities of the individual AW2 Soldier or Veteran. Some common activities that AW2 Advocates support are:

  • Creating an action plan for life after transition
  • Coordinating with government agencies (i.e. Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Labor)
  • Supporting Continuation on Active Duty/Continuation on Active Reserve (COAD/COAR)
  • Providing career guidance
  • Locating educational opportunities
  • Performing financial audits
  • Finding local resources
  • Navigating medical and Physical Evaluation Board (MEB/PEB)

AW2 Advocates collaborate with transition professionals at AW2 Headquarters to resolve issues related to careers and education, benefits, pay, the Department of Veterans Affairs and more. These AW2 transition professionals also use their vast knowledge and experience with wounded, ill and injured Soldiers to help write policies and guidance that affect all WTUs.

“Did You Know?” Series

We will post a blog every other week on the following five topics throughout our “Did You Know?” blog series during the AW2 Tenth Anniversary commemoration:

1)    What is AW2?

2)    AW2 Advocates

3)    AW2 Career and Education

4)    AW2 Pay and Benefits

5)    VA Resources

Is there another topic you want us to cover in the future? Want to share your story? Post a comment here or email us at usarmy.pentagon.medcom-wtc.mbx.strategic-communications@mail.mil.

Did You Know? Meet the WTU Career and Education Readiness Team

By Caitlin Morrison, WTC Communications Division

Do you know how many Cadre are involved in WTU Soldiers’ Career and Education Readiness (CER) activities?  Career and Education Readiness activities support wounded, ill and injured Soldiers as they transition, whether they remain in the Army or transition to Veteran status.  All Warrior Transition Unit (WTU) Soldiers set career goals as part of their Comprehensive Transition Plan (CTP).  Career and Education Readiness activities provide eligible Soldiers with the skills and knowledge they need to advance toward their career goals. Achieving career goals contributes positively to the rehabilitation and reintegration process, which is why there are so many Interdisciplinary Team members along with the Triad of Care available to support every Soldier.

You may already know that the Triad of Care – Primary Care Manager (PCM), Nurse Case Manager (NCM) and Squad Leader (SL) – coordinates to ensure all members of the WTU team operate synergistically to benefit the Soldier.   Nurse Case Managers keep team members up to date on the Soldier’s medical status and physical profile.  Squad Leaders coach, teach, mentor and counsel Soldiers on their responsibilities while participating in a CER activity.  They also ensure Soldiers are at their places of duty and coordinate with their work site supervisor for assessments.

What you may not know is that in addition to the Triad of Care, each CER-eligible Soldier also works with an interdisciplinary team that includes a Transition Coordinator (TC), Occupational Therapist (OT), Medical Management (M2) and Career Counselor (CC).   They may also participate in as external support programs such as the Army Continuing Education System (ACES) and Operation Warfighter (OWF).  Interdisciplinary Team members work together and inform one another of important updates and changes to ensure Soldiers have the most productive and successful CER experiences possible:

-       Transition Coordinator (TC): ensures the Soldier’s career goals line up with the CTP and helps coordinate CER activities.

-       Occupational Therapist – Registered (OTR):  completes Phase I goal setting with the Soldier and provides life skills training and goal reassessment throughout the Soldiers’ stay at the WTU.

-       Medical Management (M2):  works to determine eligibility for CER activities along with the WTU Commander.

-       Career Counselor (CC): counsels Soldiers on the logistics of career changes.

Transition professionals at Warrior Transition Command talk about Soldiers experiencing the “fog of recovery”, or the emotional and psychological difficulties that may accompany physical injuries.  Soldiers assigned to WTUs are encouraged to develop and strive to meet career goals to ease the fog. This often includes returning to the work force either in a familiar or new work environment.  The CER program, with the support of the Interdisciplinary Team, helps Soldiers prepare and plan a career path that will put them on the right track for returning to, or creating, a new normal.

For more information on Career and Education Readiness, visit the Career Planning webpage and the “Meet the WTU Career and Education Readiness Team” fact sheet.

Did You Know? Career and Education Readiness (CER)

By Caitlin Morrison, WTC Communications Division

Did you know that Career and Education Readiness (CER) activities support wounded, ill and injured Soldiers’ transition processes, whether they remain in the Army or transition to Veteran status?  All Warrior Transition Unit (WTU) Soldiers set career goals as part of their Comprehensive Transition Plan (CTP).  Career and Education Readiness activities are designed to provide eligible Soldiers with the skills and knowledge they need to advance towards these career goals.

You may already know that Soldiers receive a Transition Coordinator (TC) during the in-processing stage.  You may also know that the TC is a key resource for Soldiers eligible to participate in CER activities. Transition Coordinators specialize in navigating career and education options based on the Soldier’s individual circumstances.

What you may not know is how many CER options are available to Soldiers. Career and Education Readiness activities may include internships, work site placements, training, professional certificates and education programs (including bachelor’s and master’s degree programs).  Soldiers who remain in the Army and choose to pursue a new Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) are directed towards specific internships and training courses that will best provide them the required skills and knowledge for their new MOS.  For those who expect to transition out of the Army, there are valuable work experiences and university courses that can set those Soldiers on the right path to achieve their post-transition career goals. The number of programs that the WTUs work with ensures that every Soldier finds a meaningful CER activity.

For more information on Career and Education Readiness, visit the Career Planning webpage and take a look at the Career and Education Readiness fact sheet.

Stay tuned for the next blog post on the Career and Education Readiness team members.


Launch of the New WTC Website

By Brig. Gen. David J. Bishop

The Warrior Transition Command (WTC) is excited to launch the new WTC website which will provide wounded, ill and injured Soldiers, Veterans, their Families, Caregivers and Cadre with increased access to information. Based on feedback directly from you, we launched a more user-friendly website with in-depth information on all aspects of the recovery and transition process. Being the proponent for wounded, ill and injured Soldiers means ensuring you can find accurate information easily, using today’s technology.

Visit the new, user-friendly website at www.WTC.army.mil. To learn more, check out the public website redesign factsheet at this link. The new site provides in-depth information on many topics, including but not limited to:

You and your Family can access the website on any device, including smartphones, tablets and desktop computers. This way information is available to you whether you are healing at a Warrior Transition Unit (WTU) or at home. We relied on recovery and transition experts from WTC, WTUs and other elements of the U.S. Army Medical Command (MEDCOM) and the site will continue to grow to keep up to speed with the information you need.

I urge you to explore the new site and learn more. Your feedback is important in shaping how the website will grow and evolve to meet your needs. Send us an email at usarmy.pentagon.medcom-wtc.mbx.strategic-communications@mail.mil. Stay tuned to our blog, Facebook page and Twitter page for more updates.

 

Did You Know? Special Compensation for Assistance with Activities of Daily Living (SCAADL)

By Amanda Koons, WTC Stratcom

Did you know that servicemembers who incurred a permanent catastrophic injury or illness may be eligible for a monthly financial compensation called Special Compensation for Assistance with Activities of Daily Living (SCAADL)? SCAADL helps offset the loss of income by a primary Caregiver who provides non-medical care, support and assistance for the servicemember. Read on to see who qualifies for SCAADL, what steps you should take to apply and where you can go to find more information.

1.)  Do I qualify for SCAADL?

You may qualify for SCAADL if you are a servicemember who:

  • Has a catastrophic* injury or illness incurred or aggravated in the line of duty;
  • Has been certified by a Department of Defense (DoD) or Veterans Affairs (VA) physician to be in need of assistance from another person to perform the person functions required in daily living or required constant supervision;
  • Would, in the absence of this provision, require some form of residential institutional care (i.e. hospitalization or nursing home care); and
  • Is not currently in inpatient status in a medical facility.

*Catastrophic: A permanent severely disabling injury, disorder or illness incurred or aggravated in the line of duty that the Secretary of the military department concerned determines compromises the ability of the afflicted person to carry out activities of daily living to such a degree that the person requires person or mechanical assistance to leave home or bed or constant supervision to avoid physical harm to self or others.

2.)  What steps should I take to apply?

SCAADL is not automatic. Soldiers must actively apply. If you believe you qualify for SCAADL, contact a member of your recovery team, such as your primary care manager, nurse case manager, AW2 Advocate or unit leadership for the SCAADL application and guidance.

Your DOD or VA physician will complete a DD Form 298. If your attending physician is not affiliated with DOD or VA, your recovery team can make arrangements to have a DOD or VA physician review your case and complete the certification. Your application (DD Form 2948) will be forwarded, via your chain of command, to the Warrior Transition Command.

3.)  Where can I go to find more information?

Your first resource for information about SCAADL is your recovery team, including your primary care manager, nurse case manager, AW2 Advocate or unit leadership. In addition, the following electronic resources are available to you:

“Did You Know?”Series

Using your feedback, WTC Stratcom identified five topics where wounded, ill and injured Soldiers, Families and cadre want additional information, particularly around Warrior Care and Transition Program (WCTP) resources, benefits and policies that impact their recovery and transition. We’ll post one blog per week on these five topics throughout our “Did You Know?” blog series during Warrior Care Month:

  1. Special Compensation for Assistance with Activities of Daily Living (SCAADL)
  2. Community Support Resources
  3. Internships
  4. Adaptive Reconditioning
  5. Transition Coordinators

Is there another topic you want us to cover in the future? Post a comment here.

 

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