By Frederick PooleJuly 22, 2009
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, July 21, 2009) -- The top issues for wounded warriors across the nation were discussed at the 5th annual Army Wounded Warrior Program Symposium in San Antonio, Texas, July 14-16.
The annual AW2 symposium brings together representative Soldiers, veterans, spouses and children to spend a week engaging in intense focus-group discussions, said Col. Jim Rice, director of the U.S. Army Wounded Warrior Program, during a bloggers roundtable July 16.
The top five issues addressed at the symposium were:
Aca,!Ac Concurrent receipt of retired and Veterans Affairs disability pay.
Aca,!Ac Comprehensive psych education for post traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury service members, family members, and caregivers.
Aca,!Ac Veterans Affairs education for Army Wounded Warrior Program advocates.
Aca,!Ac Stipends for primary caregivers of ill/injured servicemembers.
Aca,!Ac Community support coordinators in geographically dispersed areas.
"These top issues then become our marching orders for the next year," said Rice. He explained that the five selected issues will be presented to Army leadership along with recommended action.
The delegates at the symposium thought that AW2 advocates did not always have the latest information on what was going on in Veterans Affairs to provide to Soldiers, said Rice. That is a challenge in the program that will be addressed, he said.
"We will do a better job getting that [information] to our advocates and to their Soldiers," said Rice.
AW2 advocates are trained to provide coordination between Soldiers and Veterans Affairs and any other services until they are no longer needed.
"We do this for as long as it takes. We take Soldiers who are evacuated, going through treatment, going through the medical board process and even after they transition out [of the military] our advocates stay with them for as long as it takes. That is the charge from the senior Army leadership to the Army Wounded Warrior Program," Rice said.
AW2 Soldier Melissa Cramblett, a 2009 AW2 delegate and aspiring AW2 advocate, shared her experiences with bloggers, stressing the importance of providing ongoing, personalized care to wounded warriors.
"I want to make a change for all Soldiers. I do not want the nation to ever forget our Soldiers. I believe once a Soldier, always a Soldier," said Cramblett. "I feel very honored to be a part of this."