FORT BLISS, Texas -- As he sits at the desk in his office, the
light from the window forms a halo around Carlos Escobar, an
advocate with the Army Wounded Warrior Program, also known as AW2.
Scars creep from under his sleeves down his arms, just a hint of the
His sincere smile and caring eyes welcome the
Soldier visiting his office. While there is plenty of business to be
handled, Escobar's first priority is that Soldier. He takes a
personalized approach to his job. He figures out, like a detective,
all the things that can help a wounded Soldier transform into a
The man's past is what has brought him
to where he is today, on the other side of the desk he visited as a
Escobar joined the Army in 1995 as a fire
Carlos Escobar, an Army Wounded Warrior Program advocate,
addresses Soldiers during a brief at the Soldier and Family
Assistance Center, Fort Bliss, Texas, April 23, 2014. As an AW2
advocate, Escobar strives to link wounded Soldiers and their
families with services necessary to become successful civilians.
(Photo by Staff Sgt. Candice Harrison, 24th Press Camp Headquarters,
Fort Bliss, Texas)
While he enjoyed his job, he always sought the challenge
of learning something new.
“Like everybody, I did my
time, I did my training. I was always looking to expose
myself to different things, learning new things in the
military,” said Escobar reminiscing on his early days as a
Soldier. “It started with operations, then I did
administrations and force readiness.”
skills made Escobar an asset to his unit, and it showed with
the high level of responsibility bestowed upon him during
his unit's deployment to Forward Operating Base Danger in
Tikrit, Iraq. He was part of the personal security
detachment for the battalion commander.
mission, Escobar's whole life would change.
of the convoys, I was in the right place at the wrong time,”
explains Escobar. “An (improvised explosive device) exploded
right under my Humvee on my side. I received the entire
blunt of the explosion. I got compound fractures of both
arms, I lost muscle tissue in my right shoulder and
(suffered) a broken leg.”
He jokingly refers to the
scar left on his right shoulder as his “combat patch.”
After five stops along the way, Escobar finally reached
Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. He
went through surgery and had metal plates put in each arm.
Then his long path to recovery began.
transferred to Fort Bliss, Texas, and belonged to the
medical hold unit which, at the time, was under the
Mobilization and Deployment Brigade. He spent a year and a
half in the unit while going through the transition from
Soldier to civilian.
During this time, Escobar was
enrolled into the AW2 program and introduced to his advocate
who played an important role in his recovery.
medically separated in April 2006,” said Escobar. “I stayed
home for about two and a half months, and I guess I drove my
wife crazy. She told me to go back to work. So, I went back
to work in the civilian world.”
Transitioning into a
civilian proved to be more difficult than Escobar had
thought. He missed the discipline and the culture of the
military. It didn't take long before his love for the
military would draw him back.
He was offered a job
working for the operations and training section at the MaD
Brigade as a civilian. He took the job in December 2006 and
worked there until 2010.
“To me, it was one of the
greatest organizations I have worked for, especially during
a time of high mobilization,” said Escobar, smiling from the
fond memory. “I was heavily involved with the deployment of
troops during my time. I was involved with the deployment
and redeployment of about 16,000 Soldiers.”
while, during his time with the MaD Brigade, Escobar was
constantly helping Soldier find the resources they needed.
He was especially helpful for Soldiers who were injured and
possibly facing a transition to civilian life.
took notice of his efforts. Soon, word made it back to
Escobar's AW2 advocate. A position for an advocate opened
and in November 2010, Escobar jumped at the opportunity.
“It was something that I wanted to do because when I
went through whole process all the information was scattered
all over the place,” said Escobar. “There wasn't a
centralized place where the Soldiers could go and get all
the information needed so they could see there was a light
at the end of the tunnel.”
The position became more
than a job for Escobar, it became his passion. He does not
see the Soldiers as clients, there is a bond that forms
between them many times.
“We build a relationship
with our population. It's more than just helping them link
up with their resources, its helping them succeed,” he said.
“We want to make sure our brothers and sisters have the same
chances to succeed in life.”
Succeeding in life,
often times, calls for more than someone pointing to the
right direction. So while there are structured plans
developed for each individual, Escobar will never limit one
of his Soldiers to just previously scheduled meetings.
“When I was transitioning, and after transitioning,
whenever I had a hard time I would get on the phone and call
right away,” said retired Army Sgt. 1st Class Victor Medina,
one of Escobar's clients. “Even if I had a hard time in
school I would call him up and he was always there. He would
call me every 180 days, but sometimes I was calling him
every two days.”
Medina and Escobar's relationship
has blossomed even further because recently Medina has
started an internship with Escobar and the AW2 program.
Escobar will continue to help wounded Soldiers reach
goals and strive for success. It is not just a job or his
calling. It is his passion.
“When the Army told me I
was no longer able to wear the uniform, I felt like someone
had hung a rock of Kryptonite on Superman. I think most of
the Soldiers feel the same way,” said Escobar. “I tell them
they need to get off their butt and do something. Apply the
skills you learned in the military and you will know you are
still strong, you are actually stronger.”
By U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Candice Harrison
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