Alexandria, Va. - More than 60 severely wounded soldiers, veterans, and their family members came together recently at the fifth Army Wounded Warrior Program (AW2) Symposium and identified the following top five issues that should be addressed to advance wounded soldier care:

1. Concurrent receipt of retired and Veterans Affairs (VA) disability pay
2. Comprehensive psychoeducation for post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)/traumatic brain injury (TBI) servicemembers, family members, and caregivers
3. Veterans Affairs (VA) education for Army Wounded Warrior Program Advocates
4. Stipend for primary caregivers of ill/injured servicemembers
5. Community support coordinators in geographically dispersed areas

The final issues were announced at the conclusion of the AW2 Symposium, which took place from July 8-14 in San Antonio, Texas. The AW2 Symposium is part of the Army's overall mission to improve care of wounded, injured and ill soldiers based on the needs and input of wounded soldiers and their families.

The final 2009 AW2 Symposium issues were chosen from more than 70 topics that were discussed in focus groups with categories including: medical, careers, family, and Department of Veteran Affairs (VA). With subject matter experts on site, each focus group discussed issues in one category and then all the groups came together to vote on the top five overall issues. Issues raised at previous symposiums have subsequently been resolved, resulting in solutions ranging from expanded facilities to treat traumatic brain injuries to the establishment of Soldier Family Assistance Centers.

"The severely wounded soldiers, veterans, and their families who gathered in Texas as AW2 Symposium delegates put in five days of intense work," said Army Wounded Warrior Program Director Col. Jim Rice. "The input gathered from delegates at this year's AW2 Symposium is priceless. I am proud of their efforts and am dedicated to seeing these issues progress to resolution."

As part of the focus on the families of the severely wounded, the children of AW2 delegates were also included in the Symposium. The children participated in a week-long urban adventure camp for the duration of the Symposium, made possible by collaboration with the National Military Family Association's (NMFA) Operation Purple© camp.

AW2 Symposium delegate and spouse, Desirea Jones, spokesperson for medical issues group stated, "I came here not expecting much of anything, wanting to forget that my husband was in the Army. Now I'm so proud of his service and so grateful that I've had a chance to make things better for my family and the other families - and those that will follow."

For the last five years, AW2 has assisted and advocated for the most severely wounded, injured and ill soldiers, veterans, and their families by providing personalized support for as long as it takes, wherever they are located - regardless of their military status. Personalized support is provided through more than 120 local AW2 Advocates who connect soldiers and veterans with resources and assist in their transition to life post-injury. AW2 assists the unique population of soldiers who have, or are expected to receive, an Army disability rating or 30% of greater in one or more specific categories or a combined rating of 50% or greater for conditions that are the result of combat or are combat related. Typical injuries include limb loss, burns, post traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, paralysis, and vision loss.

For more information about the Army Wounded Warrior Program, visit www.AW2@.army.mil or call 1-800-237-1336 toll-free

Page last updated Mon July 27th, 2009 at 11:06