In 2004, Army Secretary Les Brownlee directed the establishment of the Disabled Soldier Support System (DS3), later renamed the Army Wounded Warrior Program (AW2), to provide advocacy in response to the needs of the most severely wounded, injured, or ill Soldiers as a result of wounds, injuries, or illness incurred since September, 11 2001 and to reaffirm the Army’s commitment to “never leave a fallen comrade.”
As part of the U.S. Army Warrior Care and Transition Program, AW2 assists and advocates for wounded, ill and injured Soldiers, veterans, their families and caregivers, wherever they are located. To date the AW2 program has resolved more than 78,000 issues for more than 30,000 Soldiers, veterans, their families and caregivers in areas such as finance, employment, awards, education, continuation on duty, veterans’ benefits and health care.
Army Warrior Care and Transition’s AW2 program has also provided dedicated support to its Soldiers and veterans on Team Army at the Warrior Games. Seven AW2 Symposiums have resulted in significant changes to policies, regulations and legislation, to include:
Currently the program is a vital part of the Army's Warrior Care and Transition Program (WCTP) under the U.S. Army Medical Command (MEDCOM). Through the combined efforts of the Warrior Transition Unit (WTUs) and AW2, the WCTP provides personalized support to more than 16,000 Soldiers and veterans and their families and caregivers, throughout the recovery and transition process.
Building on their breadth of experience in supporting the most severely wounded, ill and injured, WCT’s AW2 program provides services to all recovering Soldiers assigned or attached to a Warrior Transition Unit (WTU), AW2 injury eligible Soldiers outside of the WTU and their families/caregivers. The program has impacted almost every aspect of the recovering Soldier, family and caregiver’s experience, from the Comprehensive Transition Plan (CTP) and career and employment readiness to adaptive reconditioning and linkage with federal, state and community support resources and benefits.
Congressionally mandated through the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2008, each Soldier is assigned an AW2 Recovery Care Coordinator (RCC) upon entry to the WTU. AW2 RCCs are integrated into the WTU’s interdisciplinary team of medical and non-medical professionals where they help facilitate the Soldier’s Comprehensive Transition Plan (CTP) goals, as well as educate the Soldier and their family/caregiver on available benefits and resources, ensures continuity of care as the Soldier recovers and rehabilitates, and transfers the responsibility to the Veterans Affairs LC for post transition support and services.
For those Soldiers that meet AW2 eligibility, once the Soldier transitions from the WTU, they are transferred from an AW2 RCC to a regional AW2 Advocate closest to their community who specializes in managing veterans, and their family/caregiver until a point where they are fully transitioned to the Department of Veterans Affairs and other federal, state and local agencies for enduring support at which time they become part of the AW2 Alumni Program (AWAP). There are currently more than 12,000 AW2 alumni.