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ON POINT II: Transition to the New Campaign

The United States Army in Operation IRAQI FREEDOM May 2003-January 2005

Part IV

Sustaining the Campaign

Chapter 13
Taking Care of Soldiers


US Army Wounded Warrior Program

The impressive improvement in OIF survival rates for Soldiers with severe injuries has required changes in Army and VA medical programs to provide long-term assistance to Soldiers who would have likely died in previous conflicts. For US troops who survive their wounds, recovery can be a long, emotional, and physically trying experience for them and their families. Beginning in late 2003, the DOD and the Army introduced new measures to assist wounded Soldiers, especially those with amputations or permanently debilitating injuries. Advances in prosthetics and changes in Army policy have given Soldiers who have lost a limb or who have other permanent disabilities the opportunity to continue to serve if they desire. Many Army units detailed Soldiers from their rear detachments to assist wounded Soldiers and their families. To provide better medical and mental health support to wounded Soldiers, on 30 April 2004 the US Army announced the creation of the Disabled Soldier Support System (DS3). On 10 November 2005 the Secretary of the Army changed the name of the program to the US Army Wounded Warrior (AW2) Program. AW2 encompasses a range of programs such as medical treatment, career counseling, and options for continued military service despite disabilities, and transition training to the civilian world.

Instead of nearly automatic discharge from the Army after becoming disabled, changes in Army policy attempted to place Soldiers in other positions in which they could continue to serve if they so desired. According to General Peter Schoomaker, Army Chief of Staff, “Medical technology has advanced to the point where Soldiers injured today on the battlefield are much more likely to survive than those injured in previous wars. Soldiers enrolled in the US Army Wounded Warrior Program are also more often able to continue service to their Nation in the Army.”64 The AW2 Program included three phases: initial notification and evaluation, medical
care and medical board evaluation, and either reintegration back into the Army or separation and transition to civilian employment. The program sought to closely integrate a Soldier’s family into the entire process, and to include travel and lodging near Walter Reed, Brooke, and other Army medical centers during treatment.65 Colonel Mary Carstensen, Director of AW2, stated, “Recovery is not limited to physical needs, but includes emotional, spiritual, financial, and occupational needs as well. Whatever it takes, we are committed to taking care of our own.”66

Chapter 13. Taking Care of Soldiers

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