JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas --
As safety guidelines continue to stay in place in response to the current state of the pandemic, many events nationwide have resumed their agenda on a more virtual platform. This has allowed the Air Force Wounded Warrior (AFW2) Program to accommodate and still attend some of the Air Force’s most prominent events, including the 2020 Air Force Association Virtual Air, Space & Cyber Conference, which AFW2 virtually attended on September 14-16.
For the past four years, the AFW2 Program has participated at the Air Force Association conference as an exhibitor, bringing alongside an equipped and agile outreach team to assist in all facets of the event. Although the conference looked different this year, AFW2 resumed their annual participation and actively engaged in one-on-one meetings with attendees during the virtual exhibition hall.
“This virtual platform was very new and there were a lot of lessons learned throughout the planning, coordination, and execution process,” said Melissa Wiest, AFW2 Outreach program manager. “There was more time and ability to gain full attention from attendees, as well as an easier exchange of information to ensure follow-ups from the connections we made.”
This year the virtual conference offered many opportunities to connect with various organizations throughout military and civilian sectors. The AFW2 outreach team worked strategically throughout the multi-day event, capturing valuable connections for potential commercial sponsorships and a considerable amount of resources that will benefit support programs across AFW2.
Additionally, the AFW2 team virtually interacted with Air Force senior leadership on the needs of wounded, ill, and injured Airmen. One of these interactions was with the Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force JoAnne S. Bass, as she paid a visit to AFW2’s virtual booth to discuss the program’s mission and initiatives, the many ways the program supports warriors, caregivers, and their families, and the way ahead in ensuring program awareness and growth across the Air Force.
During this dynamic discussion, the CMSAF went on to say, “When my schedule is free, and I can make it out to be with you all, I will always do that. It is programs like this where I will be able to help highlight it at my level so that we can support you all and the efforts that you have. I got it.”
AFW2 Ambassadors also participated during the conference, as they joined the team in making connections and informing about the resources available for Airmen and their families during a time of need. This opportunity allowed the ambassadors to share elements of their stories to emphasize on the importance of AFW2 and help Airmen recognize that there is a program designed to provide personalized restorative care and services.
“I was happy that the virtual platform enabled us to continue reaching out,” said Tech Sgt. August O’Niell, Special Tactics Training Squadron pararescueman. “It is one thing having AFW2 staff members speaking, but when people can see and speak to members that have used AFW2 and benefitted from the program, it helps people visualize the results of what AFW2 does. Whether it is returning a warrior to duty, or simply helping them with an ailment, illness, or injury.”
To learn more about the AFW2 Program, or to refer an Airman, visit www.woundedwarrior.af.mil for additional information and resources. Be sure to also visit the AFW2 Facebook page and witness all the virtual social events taking place every week hosted by our warriors, caregivers, and staff members.