The U.S. Army Wounded Warrior Program (AW2) is a program administered by the U.S Army Warrior Transition Command that assists severely wounded soldiers and families from injury throughout recovery for as long as they need help. This system of support and advocacy guides soldiers from evacuation through treatment and rehabilitation until they return to duty or leave the military. AW2 also supports their families and caregivers, who have their own needs.
On April 30, 2004, the U.S. Army introduced the Disabled Soldier Support System (DS3) in response to the growing number of soldiers wounded in operations in the Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan. In November 2005, the name was changed to the Army Wounded Warrior Program to more clearly identify the population served by the program.
All wounded, injured and ill soldiers are assigned to a Warrior Transition Unit;  those with extensive medical needs are simultaneously assigned to the Army Wounded Warrior Program and receive a local AW2 Advocate for long-term assistance. 
As of November 2009, the program enrolled more than 5,700 soldiers and their families.
Warrior Transition Unit[edit | edit source]
A Medical Retention Processing Unit (MRPU) was the previous name of the (current) Warrior Transition Unit (WTU). The MRPU was a medical unit designated for RC soldiers or US Army Reserve (USAR) who were injured or developed severe illness while on active duty. The primary duty of the MRPU was to ensure that soldiers assigned receive the proper medical care and were restored to full duty status before returning to their respective RC unit.
The MRPU has now been replaced by the WTU, or, the Warrior Transition Unit. All units or companies that were previously known as MRPU, Med Hold or Med Holdover are renamed WTU. In the case of a brigade size unit they are known at WTB.
More information about WTU is available at the Army Personnel website, or www.armyg1.army.mil under the Warrior Transition Unit Consolidated Guidance (Administrative)
Program criteria[edit | edit source]
To be eligible for AW2, a soldier must have, or be expected to receive, an Army Physical Disability Evaluation System (APDES) rating of 30% or greater in one or more categories, or a combined rating of 50% or greater, for conditions that are related to combat since September 10, 2001.
Conditions are based on the Veterans Administration Schedule for Rating Disabilities (VASRD) as used by the U.S. Army Physical Disability Agency (USPDA). Some of these categories are:
- Loss of vision/blindness
- Loss of limb
- Spinal cord injury/paralysis
- Permanent disfigurement
- Severe burns
- Traumatic brain injury
- Post traumatic stress disorder
- Mental Illness not limited to Schizophrenia/Bipolar Disorder
- Fatal/incurable disease
- Any other condition requiring extensive hospitalization or multiple surgeries.
An AW2 Advocate helps with daily problems, adjusting to life after injury, issues concerning returning to duty or leaving the military, and any long-term concerns.
AW2 Advocates are located throughout the country at major military treatment facilities and VA Medical Centers and they assist Soldiers/Families through a number of different roles such as:
- Career and education guides
- Benefit advisors
- Military transition specialists
- Local resource experts
- Family assistants
- Life coaches.
Many of these Advocates are located in the Soldier Family Assistance Centers (SFAC), a facility housing many service providers dedicated to wounded soldiers. The SFACs provide wounded veterans services, substance abuse information and referral for family members, financial counseling, transition and employment assistance, education counseling, public-use computers, and child care. They are designed to be a safe haven that promotes healing.
A core tenant of the Army Wounded Warrior Program is the Army Family Covenant — a recent initiative to recognize growing demands from soldiers’ families strained by the War on Terrorism. On Oct. 8, 2007, Chief of Staff of the United States Army, Gen.George W. Casey, Jr. announced the policy at a Family Forum of the Association of the United States Army’s Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C..
Controversy over care[edit | edit source]
The U.S. Army has undergone a great amount of scrutiny for its treatment of returning veterans wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan in particular at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. A class action lawsuit has been brought against the U.S. Government for perceived mistreatment of veterans by the government. The Army Times reported in 2007 that critics of the Army maintained that veterans were being shortchanged regarding their disabilities incurred while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Services provided by other military branches[edit | edit source]
Wounded or disabled veterans from other branches of service are served through other programs.
- U.S. Marine Corps: the Marine For Life program and the Wounded Warrior Regiment, which has battalion headquarters on the east and west coasts.
- U.S. Air Force: Air Force Wounded Warrior Program (AFW2) for airmen with certain combat-related injuries.
- U.S. Navy: Safe Harbor provides personalized support and assistance to severely injured sailors and their families.
References[edit | edit source]
- Army.mil - Army Wounded Warrior Program Honors Four Years of Service
- 2008 U.S. Army Posture Statement - Information Papers - U.S. Army Wounded Warrior Program
- General: Army still facing Warrior Transition Unit challenges | Stars and Stripes
- AW2 FAQ
- Possible Conditions Qualifying for AW2 Program
- Home - Soldier Family Assistance Center
- ArmyMWR Family Page
- Army Leadership to Families: "We Hear You Loud and Clear"
- Association of the United States Army: Army chief of staff introduces Family Covenant Initiative
- Army Times, Wounded and waiting - Army News, opinions, editorials, news from Iraq, photos, reports - Army Times
- New Wounded Warrior Regiment
- Safe Harbor - Severely Injured Support