‘Care Beyond Duty’ – The Air Force Wounded Warrior Program|
Posted 5/9/2012 Updated 5/9/2012
by Eric M. Grill
Air Force Personnel, Services and Manpower Public Affairs
5/9/2012 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO - RANDOLPH, Texas -- Since Oct. 1, Air Force Wounded Warrior Program nonmedical care managers have assisted Airmen with garnering more than $700,000 worth of benefits and entitlements.
This is just one example of how the Air Force Wounded Warrior Program works with, and advocates for, wounded warriors and their families.
"The Air Force Wounded Warrior Program motto -- 'Care Beyond Duty' -- speaks to our commitment to our wounded warriors' recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration," said Maj. Gen. A.J. Stewart, Air Force Personnel Center commander, who has operational control of the Air Force Wounded Warrior Program. "Wounded warriors deserve the best care we can give them; care that does not stop when the fighting ends."
Currently, there are more than 1,450 wounded warriors in the Air Force's program, with around 30 new Airmen being identified monthly.
The Air Force program's 21 nonmedical care managers work in AFPC's Warrior and Family Operations Center here, and are an integral part of a wounded warrior's recovery team.
Nonmedical care managers work with wounded warriors and their families to guide them through the day-to-day nonmedical challenges, and resolve various concerns that arise. Many of the managers are retired military members who have extensive knowledge of the Air Force, and the personnel and financial programs relating to wounded warriors.
The Air Force Wounded Warrior Program launched in 2005 as the PALACE HART (Helping Airmen Recover Together) program and was renamed in 2007. The program was created to support Department of Defense's initiative ensuring all wounded warriors receive comprehensive information and guidance on benefits and entitlements, as well as developing procedures to assist Airmen with remaining on active duty or transitioning into the civilian community.
Nonmedical care managers steer wounded warriors through a multitude of personnel and career issues including promotions, evaluations, retraining and retention, as well as financial, relocation, benefits and entitlement concerns.
Myriad rules, regulations and resources can be daunting for anyone, especially people who are recovering from physical and mental injuries. That's where the nonmedical care managers step in.
"The ability to have someone in your corner fighting for you when you are unable to fight for yourself is most memorable and what will be forever etched in my mind and heart," said retired Senior Airman LaToya Parrott, a wounded warrior who believes the program is a blessing.
"Had it not been for this program, I may not have ever gotten back to what the normal civilian calls a normal life. I am still not 100-percent rehabilitated, and I still go through weekly medical appointments, but I am now beginning to see the sun peek through the clouds."
The nonmedical care managers also advocate for services on a wounded warrior's behalf with the Department of Defense, Veterans Affairs, Department of Labor, and Social Security Administration.
"The Air Force Wounded Warrior Program focuses on specific family needs, providing the best individualized support," said Lt. Col. Susan Black, Air Force Wounded Warrior Program chief. "The most important goal of the program is to ensure Airmen and their families receive excellent nonmedical care services as they progress through the recovery, rehabilitation, and reintegration process."
Collaborating with nongovernment agencies is another of the many ways nonmedical care managers go above and beyond to help wounded warriors, Black said.
Recently, a severely disabled wounded warrior was approved for a $5,500 home renovation through the VA, but was put on a waiting list. The wounded warrior fell and needed the renovation faster than was possible through VA channels.
The wounded warrior's nonmedical care manager was able to make contact with a nonprofit foundation that took on the renovation project. Foundation officials also renovated other parts of the house needing repair, Black said.
"The impact that nonmedical care managers make is invaluable as wounded warriors confirm their resilience and progress toward independence and stability," she said.
For more information about the Air Force Wounded Warrior Program, go online to www.woundedwarrior.af.mil. For information on personnel issues go to the Air Force Personnel Services website at https://gum-crm.csd.disa.mil.