By Navy Lt. Jennifer CraggJuly 1, 2008
WASHINGTON (AFPS, July 1, 2008) - The U.S. Army Wounded Warrior Program, called "AW2" for short, held its fourth annual symposium in Indianapolis last week to identify the most important issues to advance wounded soldier care, the program's director said yesterday.
"The AW2 symposium is an important part of the Army's overall mission to improve care for wounded soldiers and their families," Army Col. Jim Rice said in a teleconference with online journalists and bloggers.
This year, AW2 brought together more than 70 severely wounded, injured and ill soldiers and their families to address issues important to them, Rice said.
"The issues were chosen from more than 80 topics that were discussed in focus groups, with categories including medical services, transition, family, continuation on active duty or active reserve duty, employment, and the Department of Veteran Affairs," Rice said.
The symposium's theme was "I am AW2."
"We chose this theme because the soldiers and the families are who we serve," Rice explained. "They are the AW2 program, and we wanted to hear their voices throughout the symposium. The wounded soldiers and family member delegates were engaged in a week of intensive focus groups discussing the issues, which were broken into various categories."
At the end of the week, all of the focus groups came together and presented the top issues in their category, the colonel said.
After the delegates voted, the top five overall issues they identified were:
-- Alternative treatment options for wounded warriors;
-- Support groups and counseling for wounded warrior families;
-- Processes for continuing on active duty or in the active reserve;
-- Treatment of soldiers by the physical evaluation boards for continuation on active duty or in the active reserve; and
-- Eligibility criteria for the Warrior Transition Program.
"It really is a continuing process of improvement, of support to these soldiers and their families," Rice said.
This year, for the first time, as part of the focus on the families of the severely wounded, the children of AW2 delegates were included in the symposium. The children participated in a day camp made possible by collaboration with the National Military Family Association's Operation Purple, and they provided their own issues for consideration, the colonel said.
"The inclusion of children in the symposium is so important for our focus on the families of wounded soldiers," he said. "Both the wounded soldiers and their families have made sacrifices in their service to our country, and it is AW2's mission to serve them the very best we can."
Rice said more information is available about the Army Wounded Warrior Program by calling 800-237-1336 toll-free or visiting www.AW2.army.mil.
(Navy Lt. Jennifer Cragg works in the New Media Directorate of the Defense Media Activity)