Randy G. Tillery
Randy G. Tillery

Col. Michael J. Flatten
Col. Michael J. Flatten

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About the Air Force Wounded Warrior Program

Overview

The Air Force Wounded Warrior (AFW2) Program works together with the Air Force Survivor Assistance Program, Airman & Family Readiness Centers and the Air Force Medical Service to provide concentrated non-medical care and support for combat wounded, ill and injured Airmen (and their families) as they recover and transition back to duty or into civilian life. The Air Force defines a wounded warrior as “any Airman who is seriously wounded, ill, or injured that may require a Medical Evaluation Board/Physical Evaluation Board to determine fitness for duty.”

 

More than 6,300 wounded warriors their families and or caregivers are being supported by the AFW2 Program. The number continues to grow as more wounded warriors are identified. The AFW2 Program is functionally aligned under the Air Force Warrior & Survivor Care Division and operationally managed by the Air Force Personnel Center.

 

AFW2 is a Congressionally-mandated, federally-funded program that provides personalized care, services and advocacy to seriously or very seriously wounded, ill or injured Total Force recovering service members and their Caregivers and families. AFW2 focuses on specific personal and family needs and includes programs that cover a gamut of situations throughout the recovery process and beyond.

 

PROGRAM GOALS

We will provide well-coordinated & personalized support to wounded, ill or injured Total Force recovering service members (RSM) and their Caregivers and families. The program will advocate for the RSM to ensure accessibility and minimize delays and gaps in medical and non-medical service. We will use a 7 Phase Continuum of Care that runs from the initial identification through recovery and rehabilitation to reintegration back into active duty or transition to retirement or separation. The Continuum of Care allows us to anticipate needs of the RSM and to connect them with resources to assist them as needed. The goal is to provide a refined, simplified transition back to duty or into civilian life, ensuring RSMs are well-equipped to manage challenges because of their wounds, injuries or illnesses.

 

ELIGIBILITY AND ENROLLMENT

  • Very seriously, or seriously wounded, ill, or injured on the Casualty Morning Report or by a Department of Defense medical authority

  • Airmen with highly-complex medical conditions that are service related or were sustained in the line of duty and confirmed by a DOD medical authority (examples: tick-borne illnesses, cancer, invisible wounds [PTSD/TBI], chemical exposure, etc.). Final approval authority is AFPC/DPFW

  • Airmen diagnosed with service-related or in the line of duty PTSD, TBI, or MST, verified by DOD medical authority and are under consideration or referral for MEB

  • Purple Heart recipients

  • Air Reserve Components (ARC) who were retained for more than 6 months on Title 10 medical orders or returned to Title 10 orders for deployment-related conditions

Support Network

RECOVERY TEAM

To provide non-medical care and support, the Recovery Care Team jointly develops the wounded warrior’s Comprehensive Recovery Plan (CRP), evaluating its effectiveness and adjusting it as transitions occur. The Recovery Team includes the wounded warrior; the family and or caregiver; the wounded warrior’s commander; a Recovery Care Coordinator, a Medical Care Case Manager, a Non-Medical Care Manager, and can include medical providers as needed.

 

MEDICAL CARE CASE MANAGER

Located at military treatment facilities; ensures the wounded warrior and their family/caregivers understands their medical conditions, treatments and receives appropriate coordinated health care. Assists with TSGLI claims, coordinate care upon discharge to include scheduling follow-up appointments, NMA orders, and medical continuation orders. They attend multidisciplinary conferences with WWs providers to assist with disposition. MCCMs conduct periodic reviews of the wounded warrior medical status. The MCCM assists with the seamless transition of WW to VA/DOD CM upon discharge.

 

NON-MEDICAL CARE MANAGER

Located at the Warrior and Family Operations Center, AFPC, ensures the wounded warrior, family/caregiver receives non-medical support during care, management and transition (before, during and after relocation). NMCM’s provide feedback on effectiveness of the CRP meeting the wounded warrior’s personal goals and assists with resolving financial, administrative, personnel, logistical issues as well as job placement services. NMCM’s also assist with finding resources to maintain or improve welfare/quality of life and identify family needs for the wounded warrior as well as ensures applicable benefits, compensation and services, for life.

 

FAMILY LIAISON OFFICER

Appointed by unit to assist seriously wounded, ill and injured Airmen and their families. FLOs are responsible for logistical support to the member and family, such as meeting family members at the airport and arranging lodging and transportation. FLOs also serve as an “interpreter” by assisting the wounded warrior and family navigate the various agencies involved in recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration.

 

RECOVERY CARE COORDINATOR

More than 43 RCCs located throughout the Air Force; assists the wounded warrior’s commander in overseeing and coordinating services and resources identified in the CRP. RCCs ensures the wounded warrior and family/caregiver have access to all medical and non-medical services throughout the continuum of care and minimize delays and gaps in treatment (medical) and services (non-medical). RCCs also facilitate and monitor the execution of services.

 

Since 2005, the Air Force has taken care of Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom wounded through the program PALACE HART (Helping Airmen Recover Together). In 2007, the PALACE HART Program was renamed the Air Force Wounded Warrior Program, and the Air Force Wounded Warrior website was launched to educate and inform Airmen and the public about wounded warrior care and initiatives. In 2008, RCCs were established. These RCCs are the Air Force Warrior and Survivor Care Program's focal point for coordinating medical and non-medical care and services for all seriously wounded, injured or ill service members. Currently, there are 33 RCCs worldwide providing face-to-face care and assistance for all wounded, ill and injured Airmen. They work in conjunction with medical case managers and non-medical care managers.

 

In a June 2008 policy memo, the Air Force Chief of Staff stated the Air Force will make every effort to retain Airmen who want to remain on active duty after suffering combat related injuries. In 2009, the Air Force announced the revision of several personnel policies to return seriously wounded warriors to productive military service including promotion opportunities while in patient status, retraining if they had an AFSC disqualifying condition and Limited Assignment Status for wounded warriors regardless of time in service. In June 2011, the Air Force opened the Air Force Warrior and Family Operations Center. This new complex provides a one-stop workplace for up to 81 professionals to deliver a full spectrum of integrated services supporting all Airmen and their families, throughout the military lifecycle and beyond, including a special focus on Airmen who are severely combat wounded, ill or injured.  

 

The center enhances the integration of business practices between four functional areas that provide like support services -- fiscal management, employment assistance, personal and family life counseling, transition assistance benefits and entitlements; this facility also provides accommodation for increased manning of Wounded Warrior non-medical care management.

 

In January 2012, The Air Force codified a seven-phase continuum of care to address wounded warriors, their families and care givers’ needs to assist with a range of personnel benefits and entitlements, financial, education and employment opportunities, Integrated Disability Evaluation System and connects the wounded warrior/family with community resources and Defense Department programs. The wounded warrior continuum of care seven phases is: Identification, recovery and treatment, rehabilitation, fitness evaluation, reintegration or transition, stabilization and resolution, and sustainment. In February 2017, in response to the Chief of Staff of the Air Force’s Invisible Wounds of War initiative, AFW2 was authorized to stand up two cells to address their concerns. The Temporary Retired Airman’s Care Cell was created to provide continuous support, advocacy, and assistance for wounded warriors placed on the Temporary Disability Retired List. The Air Reserve Component Cell was created specifically to address the unique issues presented by recovering service members assigned to either the Air Force Reserve or Air National Guard bureau components.

Organization

FUNCTIONAL (AFPC) ALIGNMENT

The Directorate for Personnel Programs (DP3) interprets and implements policies; execute authorities; develop guidance, standards and processes; coordinate and deploy standards, systems, programs, procedures and actions for the Air Force personnel programs portfolio. AFPC liaison to the Air Force and its components, the DOD and its agencies, the Federal Government, and industry. Serves as the end-to-end process owner for all personnel programs executed by AFPC. Collaborates with DP0, DP1, and DP2, to work SECAF 3-1 Total Force initiatives for the Air Staff Human Resource Management Strategic Board (HSB) and the HR Management Strategic Council (HSC). DP3 contains two Associate Directors (AD) which are a key component of the matrix structure:

 

The Directorate of Airman and Family Care (DPF) provides care and operational support to active duty, Reserve, Guard, civilians, retirees and their respective families. The directorate provides care and support to wounded, ill and injured Airmen and their families that will enable them to go forward as productive and proud members of society whether continuing in or out of uniform. It also conducts professional boards to ensure fair compensation to members whose military careers are cut short due to service incurred or aggravated physical disability. The organization is the focal point and final approval authority for USAF veteran claims for combat related special compensation. They formulate casualty policy, procedures and system requirements and oversee the missing persons program. The directorate manages casualty reporting and notification for active duty, Guard, Reserve, overseas civilians, and contractor personnel and monitors casualty assistance provided to next of kin. The directorate provides a centralized and functionally integrated case management office to ensure timely evaluation, treatment and disposition of our wounded, ill and injured ARC members serving on active duty. It manages medical continuation orders and a case management system to expedite medical evaluation and treatment of Airmen to regain their ability to perform military duties or to enter into the Integrated Disability Evaluation System.