By J.D. LeipoldJanuary 28, 2011
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Jan. 28, 2011) -- Concern about competitiveness among peers ranks top among the concerns for severely wounded, ill and injured Soldiers who have been allowed to continue to serve on active or active reserve duty.
More than 30 such Soldiers were invited by the Army Wounded Warrior Program to present their top concerns to Army leadership Jan. 27, during a COAD/COAR forum in Alexandria, Va.
Across the Army, 250 Soldiers are on Continue on Active Duty or Continue on Active Reserve status. As part of the forum, Soldiers representing this community gathered to break down 57 issues their community feels are detrimental to the long-term reintegration and support of active wounded Soldiers -- a segment of the Army which continues to grow according to the commander of the Warrior Transition Command.
"The Army is hosting this event to ensure that our existing policies keep pace with the needs of the rapidly growing population of COAD/COAR Soldiers," said Col. Darryl A. Williams. "Since 2008, there has been a 23.3 percent increase in severely wounded Soldiers who continue to serve post injury. These Soldiers are a tremendous asset, and I want to be sure we capitalize on their experience and support their long-term Army careers."
Over the course of the three-day forum two focus groups identified their combined top 10 concerns which they then whittled down after subject matter experts had provided clarification on Army rules, regulations and policies.
The top issues the delegates presented to the review panel included:
-- A review on how to make COAD/COAR Soldiers competitive with peers for promotion though they will be unable to perform in combat roles as non-COAD/COAR Soldiers
-- A standardization on awareness and understanding of COAD/COAR Soldiers at all levels of the Army
-- Procurement, sustainment and maintenance of durable medical and adaptive fitness equipment such as wheelchairs and prosthetics
-- Better coordination of care for COAD/COAR Soldiers
-- Establishment of a stipend for extra expenses directly associated with service-related injuries
-- Development of an advanced education program for enlisted COAD/COAR Soldiers
Panel members will take the proposals to Army senior leadership to be considered for implementation. The panel included: Lt. Gen. Thomas P. Bostic, Army G-1; Maj. Gen. Gina S. Farrisee, Human Resource commander; Brig. Gen. Gary H. Cheek, Military Personnel Management director; Col. Gregory Gadson, AW2 director and Col. Darryl A. Williams, WTC commander.
Since the late 1960s the Army has had regulations on the books that allow Soldiers found unfit for duty by the Physical Evaluation Board due to severe combat wounds such as amputations, paralysis, severe burns, post-traumatic stress disorder and loss of vision to serve under COAD or COAR status.