Wounded Warrior Program Helping Many
June 11, 2009
Selfless service is a term commonly used to highlight the accomplishments and perfor- mance of military and civilian personnel throughout the Department of Defense, and nowhere is that service more evident than among advocates assigned to the Army Wounded Warrior Program.
For AW2 Advocate Arlethia Royster, the chance to make a difference in the lives of the Soldiers that make up her caseload, is the driving force behind her desire to serve. A native of South Boston, Virginia, Royster is just one of a growing number of advocates dedicated to providing Wounded Warriors and their Families, the best possible support and care.
Formerly a benefits specialist with HRC Casualty Affairs, Royster is no stranger to the needs of Soldiers and their Families. "While with Casualty Affairs I was primarily responsible for certifying Serviceman Group Life Insurance and Family SGLI Claims. When you're handling issues that mean so much to someone else, you can't help but take your work seriously and want to provide the type of service that you would want for yourself or your loved ones," she said.
Even with the widespread use of broadcast media, print, and the internet, "word of mouth" still remains a formidable force throughout the communications arena. An AW2 Advocate for nearly a year and a half, Royster attributes her entry into the Wounded Warrior Program to another AW2 advocate. Commented Royster, "When the intent behind the Wounded Warrior Program was explained to me, I knew this was not only where I wanted to be...but where I needed to be."
Retired AW2 Soldier Joseph Bowser, and Sgt. 1st Class Juanita Wilson have for Royster been examples of why she feels her job as an advocate is both challenging and rewarding. Said Royster, "I would never say that I have an easy job as an advocate, but the fulfillment I get from witnessing my Soldiers overcome tremendous obstacles definitely outweigh any stress the course of a day might bring. Wilson, who lost her left hand while serving in Iraq, is currently stationed in Baltimore, Md. Her story was captured recently during an interview on the Oprah Winfrey Show. An Army Retiree, Joseph Bowser has not allowed the loss of his right leg to slow him down one bit. Currently working in the Office of the Secretary of the Army, he is a breath of fresh air. Regardless of when or where you see him, he is so upbeat and wearing a smile."
Royster admits that while not every issue concerning a Wounded Warrior is positive, many of them are humbling. "I think the most humbling part of being an Advocate is witnessing the resiliency of my Soldiers. Without even realizing it, they help motivate me on days when I might feel somewhat overwhelmed. Watching them grow and conquer physical and mental challenges daily, I am reminded that through determination, nothing is impossible," expressed the Advocate.
Stating that she sees her role as an Advocate as that of being the one consistent person in the life of an AW2 Soldier-always there to assist them as they transition from military to civilian life, Royster added, "I want to contribute to the restoration of hope in the lives of Wounded Soldiers, and help them realize their full potential despite their injuries." Royster went on to say, "I believe that one of the greatest challenges facing an Advocate is that of learning how to balance the needs of the Wounded Warrior. As a new advocate I quickly found myself focusing on being able to have an answer for every issue a Wounded Warrior presented to me. Thanks to the training and mentorship I received through the AW2 Program and leadership, and of course time - I came to understand that there are numerous resources available ...numerous subject matter experts out there to assist me in helping resolve any issues a Wounded Warrior might have."
Royster said that while her desire to be of service to Wounded Warriors and their Families, is unwavering, she understands that being an Advocate is not for everyone. She said, "For the right person, the job allows you to give of your time and talent in ways that you may never have. The impact an Advocate can make on the life of a Wounded Warrior and his Family, is unbelievable. It is a type of selfless service that is as rewarding and challenging as it is immeasurable."