JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- The Air Force Wounded Warrior Program hosted an Ambassador Roadshow event at McChord Field on Joint Base Lewis-McChord Aug. 9.
The AFW2 program is a congressionally-mandated and federally-funded program that provides personalized care, services and advocacy to seriously or very seriously wounded, ill or injured Total Force recovering service members and their caregivers and families.
“We are here to spread awareness about the AFW2 program,” said Melissa Wiest, AFW2 outreach and ambassador program manager. “We really just want to educate folks out there that we belong to the Air Force. We are the Air Force’s sole program for wounded, ill and injured Airmen, (Guardians, veterans and their families).”
As part of the program, the Roadshow Ambassador event provided the AFW2 team an opportunity to educate the Air Force population about support programs, such as Adaptive Sports, Empowerment in Transition, Wellness and Resiliency, Airman 4 Life, community programs and more that help navigate the warrior’s care. It also allowed the ambassadors to share their story of trauma, resiliency and overcoming their hardest times.
For recently-retired Tech. Sgt. Nicole Allbritton, a former vehicle fleet manager and now an ambassador, she credits the AFW2 program for saving her life.
“I was diagnosed with a very rare brain tumor at Walter Reed (National Medical Center in Maryland),” said Allbritton. “While I was there, they recommended that I talk to AFW2.”
Prior to her diagnosis, she participated in multiple races, including 10Ks and half-marathons and roller derby. However, her brain tumor prevented her from continuing these activities.
“Having people who understand you on what you’re going through is life-changing,” Allbritton said.
Through the AFW2 program, she found different ways to participate in other activities. Now, she will represent the Air Force at the Department of Defense Warrior Games Sept. 11-21, where she will be competing in cycle wheelchair track and air pistol shooting.
“I thought I had lost all of my fitness abilities,” she said. “It was a little reminder that I still have it.”
Allbritton added that AFW2 gave her the opportunity to share her story.
“Part of telling our story is part of healing,” she said. “Every time I tell my story, it’s healing myself. It’s also helping other people, too, because not everybody wants to share their story, but they need to hear it so that they know it’s OK to reach out.”
Retired 1st Lt. Joey Minear, AFW2 ambassador, said AFW2 was crucial in helping him navigate his struggles.
“It gave me the camaraderie,” Minear said. “I just realized that I am not alone anymore. I have other people that understand what I am going through. It gave me the motivation and encouragement to improve myself.”
For more information about AFW2, visit https://www.woundedwarrior.af.mil.