Warrior Care Month recognizes sacrifices; support, programs available

  • Published
  • By Gen. Roger Brady
  • Commander, United States Air Forces in Europe
The Department of Defense recently designated November as Warrior Care Month. To stress the importance of this observance I want to reach out to all active duty, National Guard and Reserve Airmen to tell you there are programs and resources within the Air Force, the DoD and the Department of Veterans Affairs available to you.

The Air Force is committed to its wounded warriors and will honor the sacrifices of our Airmen and their families by providing the best medical and professional support throughout recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration. Additionally, our service is committed to continually reviewing and improving the ways in which we provide that support.

The Air Force defines a wounded warrior as any Airman that has a direct combat or hostility-related injury or illness requiring long-term care that will require a Medical Evaluation Board or Physical Evaluation Board to determine fitness for duty. Wounded warriors may be identified in theater, upon immediate return or through post-deployment medical support.

While we've always taken care of our wounded warriors, treating more than 400 wounded Airmen since Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom began has given us lessons learned and new processes to help enhance our efforts. In 2005, the Air Force formalized warrior and survivor care under the Air Force Wounded Warrior (AFW2) program to streamline its processes. Under this program, the Air Force works to keep skilled men and women in uniform, and when unable to do so, ensures Airmen receive assistance as they shift to civilian life.

The AFW2 program works with the Air Force Survivor Assistance Program and Airman and Family Readiness Centers to ensure Airmen receive professional support and care from the point of injury to no less than five years after separation or retirement. This program focuses on specific family needs, providing the best individualized support based on identified needs. It truly is a team effort to support the AFW2 program. All the agencies involved work together to provide services regardless of the location or status of our wounded Airmen and their families.

An array of government and private organizations are committed to meeting the needs of our wounded warriors. These organizations and laws provide a number of benefits and rights for servicemembers and their families to help with financial, medical, educational, employment and other needs. For more information on the AFW2 program, go to www.woundedwarrior.af.mil.

While some Airmen prefer to stay in uniform, others may express an interest to not stay in the Air Force. The wounded warrior program staff works with each individual to provide a thorough analysis of opportunities and benefits that are available if they are medically retired or if they are separated as a combat veteran.

We have an enduring commitment to our wounded warriors to provide them the best medical and professional support throughout their recovery and reintegration. It's the right thing to do for our Airmen and their families.