By Mr. Kevin Stabinsky (IMCOM)July 24, 2009
The Warrior Ethos states that, "I will never leave a fallen comrade." Now, thanks to the U.S. Army Wounded Warrior Program (AW2), wounded veterans don\'t have to worry about the Army leaving them behind in a difficult job market.
"The Army Wounded Warrior Program (AW2) is the official U.S. Army program that assists and advocates for severely wounded, injured and ill Soldiers," said Fran Shivers, director, Human Resource Office, U.S. Army Garrison. "AW2 embodies the Warrior Ethos, 'I will never leave a fallen comrade.' "
The program focuses on those Soldiers who have suffered injuries incurred after Sept. 10, 2001 while on duty in support of overseas operations, according to the AW2 overview on the AW2 frequently asked questions page. Any veteran with an Army physical disability evaluation system rating of 30 percent or greater is eligible to participate. Others eligible include those suffering from: loss of vision, hearing loss, a fatal or incurable disease, loss of limb, a permanent disfigurement, post traumatic stress disorder, severe burns, spinal cord injuries or paralysis, a traumatic brain injury and any other condition requiring extensive hospitalization or multiple surgeries.
The program, which was introduced April 30, 2004, seeks to enhance the care and support of wounded veterans with an end goal of making them and their Families self sufficient, contributing members of the community, according to the "Introduction to the U.S. Army Wounded Warrior Program" presentation created by Jane Dulin, an AW2 liaison. One such way to empower these Soldiers is to help them find employment within government organizations.
"This program is so important. They gave so much for us. Can't we give them a job'" Shivers said.
Shivers has done her part to help provide jobs to wounded warriors. Although no wounded warriors currently have jobs at Fort McPherson or Fort Gillem, she has interviewed three candidates for positions.
"We have two awaiting positions," she said, adding the third warrior was hired to a position at Fort Benning before a job could be located here.
Like the Army wish list of a Soldier's desired duty locations, those in the AW2 program submit a location they are interested in serving in, as well as a rAfAsumAfA documenting their skills and qualifications. Shivers said those documents are forwarded to directors to see if there are any current or future vacancies available for these Soldiers.
Providing these Soldiers with jobs not only allows them to continue to serve, but also helps them emotionally, Shivers said.
"The guy just wanted to be a benefit, wanted to work and be of service," she said of the applicant hired at Fort Benning. She added that he didn't care that Fort McPherson was on the base realignment and closure (BRAC) list when applying. In fact, all three knew the base was on the BRAC list and weren't bothered by it.
Col. Deborah Grays, U.S. Army garrison commander, agrees that the Wounded Warrior Program is a way for Soldiers no longer in uniform to give back. Grays, who also reviewed the applications of the three wounded warriors interested in work at Fort McPherson, added that she saw they really want to give back.
"It is a good opportunity to bring on quality employees who have military experience," Grays said. "I encourage directorates to review applications and consider them."
Thus far, according to the AW2 published statistics, more than 3,900 severely wounded Soldiers have been assisted by the 120 AW2 advocates located throughout the country.
"It is an excellent program," Grays said.
Shivers said the program isn't just for wounded warriors, but also for their Families.
"Everyone in the Army Wounded Warrior Program understands what a huge price our Soldiers and Families have paid in support of their nation, and now we are here to support them for as long as it takes," said Col. Jim Rice, AW2 director.
"As long as it takes," is one of the slogans of the program, a vow to give support for those who have given of themselves.
"It is commendable that the Army takes care of its own, whether on active duty or (through) the Wounded Warrior Program," Shivers said. "I salute the Army for doing this."
Shivers encourages directorates in commands to look for vacancies and potential placement for wounded warriors. She said that as long as the applicant has the right qualifications and meets any necessary physical requirements, they can be placed.
Positions can be in any grade or level. However, she cautioned that directors are not allowed to inquire about a wounded warrior's particular injury.
"I'm very proud we have this program, and I'm glad that here at Fort McPherson we are embracing the program," Shivers said.
For more information on the AW2s, go to www.aw2.army.mil/news/index.html or call 1-800-237-1336.