By Anna Eisenberg, WTC Communications Division
Staff Sgt. Jorge Haddock-Santiago’s wounds are invisible—scars that no one can see or touch but will never heal or disappear. Haddock, who served as a Mortuary Affairs Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO), was on his third deployment to Iraq when he began developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He worked in the same role on previous deployments, managing Soldiers’ personal affairs and ensuring that all mortuary processes functioned smoothly. “To take care of Soldiers, you have to take care of yourself first,” said Haddock. “That’s when I came forward and said I have these issues and I want to take care of them.”
Haddock spent two years recovering at a Warrior Transition Unit (WTU) in Germany, where he worked with his interdisciplinary team, including his AW2 Advocate, to create a set of goals. His main objective: remain in uniform. After a Medical Evaluation Board found him medically unfit for duty, Haddock applied to continue on active duty through a special program called Continuation on Active Duty (COAD). “I wanted to stay in in any way and serve my country,” Haddock said. “All my other goals were there to help me work toward COAD.”
Haddock’s other goals included rediscovering an old hobby that he enjoyed before he deployed: cycling. His AW2 Advocate connected him with a nonprofit that led Soldiers and Veterans on a cycling trip, and his motivation to recover skyrocketed. “Adaptive reconditioning did a lot,” Haddock said of the physical activities that Soldiers participate in to support their physical and emotional well-being. “It has one main goal: to heal you and give you purpose.”
With a total of 18 years in the Army, Haddock remains in uniform and serves as the Continuation on Active Duty/Continuation on Active Reserve NCO at AW2, assisting in taking care Soldiers who want to stay in the Army through this unique program.
“AW2 can change people’s lives,” said Haddock. “Taking care of Soldiers, especially when they are ill or wounded, I am proud of that. When you see the difference you do, when your job is impacting others and their Families, there is no greater satisfaction than that.”