By Corrie Poland, Army Warrior Care and Transition June 13, 2017
TAMPA, Fla. - Passion and dedication. These words are the principles Army Wounded Warrior advocates live by when working with wounded, ill and injured Soldiers and veterans. Throughout the AW2 annual training, hosted by Army Warrior Care and Transition in Tampa, Fla., it was clear that AW2 advocates take their jobs very seriously and go above and beyond to ensure their Soldiers are cared for and provided the best resources available.
"Advocating. Taking care of the Soldiers, the veterans, their families…whether it's the kids or the grandparents. I help them transition from military life to civilian life, [helping them with] their finances, finding a stable job, resources for medical care or education benefits," said Kim Gager, an advocate for nine years, who works at the Department of Veterans Affairs Office in Dallas.
As the week of training went on, countless others echoed the same sentiment. Advocate Stephen Moten, who works at the James A. Haley Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Tampa, Fla. said, "Being an advocate is serving others as you would want to be served yourself, or as you would want your family to be served."
Of the 200 advocates attending the training, many are veterans and wounded warriors themselves, or are part of a military family; they understand what Soldiers are going through, because they have faced many of the same challenges.
After recovering at the Fort Bliss, Texas William Beaumont Army Medical Center, Carlos Escobar, jumped at the opportunity to give back and became an advocate himself. "Advocacy is my calling. After I became wounded [during] my last deployment to Iraq, I became part of the [AW2] program and I received all of the services and benefits that were offered. I had an advocate who took care of my issues. He helped me evolve and address the concerns that I had," said Escobar who has been serving as an advocate for the past seven years at the same WTB where he recovered.
Throughout the week, advocates were passionately engaged with Army Warrior Care and Transition leadership and staff, asking questions and having the tough conversations that lead to solutions for the Soldiers and veterans they care for. "This is such important work you're doing," said Vets4Warriors Director, retired Major General Mark Graham. "You're making a difference in so many people's lives every day."
For more information on Army Warrior Care and Transition's AW2 Program and AW2 advocates, visit: www.wct.army.mil and follow on social media at www.facebook.com/armywct and www.twitter.com/armywct.