What is it? In November 2005, the Army changed the name of the program from the Disabled Soldier Support System (DS3) to the U.S. Army Wounded Warrior Program (AW2) to reflect the Warrior ethos and spirit of our severely-wounded Soldiers. AW2 is an outreach-driven program that provides severely-wounded or injured Soldiers and their families with a system of advocacy and personal support. AW2 incorporates and integrates any and all existing programs (in and out of the Department of Defense) to provide personalized, tailored support services for severely-wounded or injured Soldiers and their families throughout their phased progression from initial casualty notification to return to the military or transition into the civilian sector. AW2’s mission is to deliver compassionate, tailored, and personal support; educate our commanders, our Army, and our Nation; design, integrate, and leverage relevant policy and programs, and influence policy ensuring that we “Never leave a fallen comrade….”
What has the Army done? The AW2 staff manages individual cases and identifies areas for systemic change. As severely-wounded or injured Soldiers progress through their care and rehabilitation, the AW2 staff remains with them to ensure all their immediate non-clinical needs are met (securing financial assistance in the form of grants from a network of providers, resolving travel claims, and finding a place for family members to live).
Additionally, the AW2 staff assists severely-wounded or injured Soldiers and their families by ensuring that they are made aware and informed through counseling and by directly linking them to a network of information and resources. The AW2 staff actively facilitates severely-wounded or injured Soldiers’ and families’ contact and coordination with external supporting agencies such as Veterans Service Organizations, the Department of Labor, the Veterans Benefits Administration, and the Veterans Healthcare Administration throughout their rehabilitation and transition processes.
Every severely-wounded or injured Soldier also receives information relating to Continuation on Active Duty or Continuation in Active Reserve status opportunities to assist them in making an informed decision on remaining in the military or transitioning into the civilian community. For those choosing to transition into the civilian sector, the AW2 staff ensures that the Soldiers and their families receive the full benefit of employment and transition assistance.
AW2 operates a Call Center that is available to address questions from severely-wounded or injured Soldiers and families and/or to link them with the appropriate AW2 specialist, at 1-800-237-1336.
What continued efforts does the Army have planned for the future? As severely-wounded or injured Soldiers progress through their care and rehabilitation, the AW2 staff remains with them to ensure that all their immediate non-clinical needs are met (securing financial assistance in the form of grants from a network of providers, resolving travel claims, and finding a place for family members to live).
The AW2 staff continues to take an active role in changing policy to resolve severely-wounded or injured Soldier indebtedness, allowing these Soldiers to remain on Active or Reserve duty, despite traumatic injuries (e.g., amputations, blindness), and works with public and private sector employers to provide meaningful employment.
AW2 continues to identify eligible severely-wounded or injured Soldiers and family members to ensure they have access to existing programs, new initiatives, and overall holistic support services.
AW2 is building a worldwide presence in a multi-faceted campaign to reach out to severely-wounded or injured Soldiers and their families, the Army Family, the Veterans Administration, the Department of Labor, the Social Security Administration, and Corporate America through visits to Army installations, Army and Veterans Affairs hospitals, exhibits at national conventions, media events, interagency meetings, and the media.
Additionally, AW2 is developing a robust interactive web site to further spread the word about the program and its personalized care for our Army’s severely-wounded and injured Soldiers and their families. AW2 is implementing a web-based Wounded Warrior Accountability System and a “real time” financial calculator.
AW2 is expanding its physical footprint by placing Soldier Family Management Specialists in major Army Medical Treatment Facilities and Veterans Affairs Medical Centers.
Why is this important to the Army? The AW2 takes to heart the Warrior Ethos. Always placing the mission first means the well-being of the wounded Soldier and family members are our primary concern. AW2 will never quit or accept defeat when dealing with issues affecting severely wounded or injured Soldiers or their families. The mission is not complete until each issue is resolved. The last line in the Warrior Ethos is extremely pertinent, “Never Leave a Fallen Comrade.” This is more than a battlefield ethos. The returning severely wounded or injured Warrior can rest assured the Army will be there and do whatever it takes to assist our severely-wounded or injured Soldiers and families during and after the recovery process.
Additional information can be found at the program’s website at: https://www.aw2.army.mil/