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Air Force Wounded Warrior Program Here To Help
by U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Janelle Pati�o - November 29, 2015

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In the dead of night above the mountains of Afghanistan, an unidentified U.S. Air Force special operations Airman noticed something suspicious while walking the perimeter of the base during a security check. He approached the suspicious package. BOOM! Everything went black and he was numb all over. The Airman was later informed unless he completely healed from this traumatic event, he would no longer be able to accomplish his duties.

Air Force Wounded Warrior Program logoIf a similar situation ever happened to you or someone you know, keep in mind the Air Force has several resources to help. One of these is the Wounded Warrior Program.

The Air Force Wounded Warrior Program was created in 2005 to support and care for seriously wounded, ill and injured Airmen. The federally-mandated program provides well-coordinated and personalized support to wounded warriors, caregivers and their families.

The Air Force Personnel Center reviews injured military members to see if they fit the criteria to be considered a wounded warrior. Airmen with highly complex medical conditions as outlined by a Medical Authority or a medical diagnosis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injury or any serious or severe medical conditions such as cancer, major depression, or severe anxiety are almost always accepted.

"The program exists to make sure wounded warriors are taken care of," said Robert Snyder, Air Force recovery coordinator. "It's to ensure accessibility and minimize delays and gaps in medical and non-medical services such as career and transition guidance and connecting with local resources Department of Defense and Veteran Affairs Programs."

Fairchild currently has 17 wounded warriors including members of Active Duty, Reserve and Guard components. Overall, the base has had over 100 wounded warriors since the program started in 2005.

Snyder works at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, and visits Fairchild four times a year to help wounded warriors.

"I visit Fairchild to sit down and talk to them face-to-face," said Snyder. "It's good to interact with them, not just through emails or phone calls, but to actually see how they are and what their concerns are."

Recovery care coordinators are the focal points for non-clinical case management for the wounded warriors and their families. They work to streamline and improve the way care and support are delivered. They also advocate for and offer a single point of contact for Airmen and their families along their road to recovery.

"Personally, knowing I help alleviate roadblocks for them is rewarding," Snyder said. "I'm here to prevent stress and make it easier for them to recover. The recovery team doesn't only include us, but there are also representatives from the medical team and Airman & Family Readiness Center."

The Air Force is the only service that stays in contact with the individual and their families even after they recover or receive a medical treatment, Snyder added. The Air Force stays in contact with wounded warriors from time to time to make sure they are still cared for.

Wounded warriors also have the opportunity to interact with other wounded warriors through the Warrior Care Support Programs, some of which are the Adaptive and Recreational Sports Program and Recovering Airman Mentorship Program where wounded warriors can work as mentors to other wounded warriors, said Snyder.

"The goal is to prevent veterans from being on the side of the road asking for help because they don't have money or someone who can take care of them," Snyder concluded.

By U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Janelle Pati�o
Provided through DVIDS
Copyright 2015

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