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Educating audiences at the 2019 Air Force Trials

Master Sgt. Dee Parks talks to senior leaders during the 2019 Pacific Air Forces Warrior CARE Event at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii in early January.

Master Sgt. Dee Parks talks to senior leaders during the 2019 Pacific Air Forces Warrior CARE Event at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii in early January. This was one of 29 briefings the Ambassador Program conducted around the base reaching over 2,000 new Airmen, highlighting the program and how it helps Airmen facing what may be the worse situation in their life. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Roger Placido)

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas --

The Air Force Wounded Warrior Program (AFW2) is a little less than a month away from kick-off for the 2019 Air Force Trials at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. This is the 6th year the Air Force Trials have been held at Nellis, and it promises to be the biggest one yet.

“We’re really pushing to make this a special event,” said Col. Michael Flatten, AFW2 director. “Every year we work harder and harder to make this something the wounded warriors will remember, this year will be no different. This event is a significant milestone in the recovery of our Airmen and a keystone to educating Airmen about support available to those who need it.”

That is where the Ambassador Program comes into play. It is part of the AFW2 outreach program that trains wounded warriors on how to tell their story, focusing on honing the skills needed to brief leadership and Airmen on how AFW2 can help them.

“In the past we trained our wounded warriors at events we hold around the Air Force,” said Marsha Gonzales, AFW2 support branch chief. “This year we decided to take the workshop to Nellis for the first time, with the goal of really increasing the education and awareness of the program. We had great success with the program when we visited the Pacific Air Forces in early January and hope to increase the number of Airmen who hear about our program this year.”

“Our goal is to reach as many Airmen and leaders as possible while we’re at Nellis,” said Bradley Britt, AFW2 ambassador program manager. “We’re bringing in some seasoned Ambassadors to help us out in the beginning and will train a whole new crop, putting them to the test right away. We’ll be conducting AFW2 briefings around Nellis and surrounding bases, giving Airmen some insight into what the program does and how they can help their fellow Airmen if they ever find them enrolled in our program.”

Helping other Airmen is a huge part of the Ambassador Program’s role in AFW2.

“The opportunity to tell the story about my struggles is a big deal,” said retired Master Sgt. Jay Cagle. “Having them understand they are not alone in the process can really be critical. Also, knowing they can get help is important and I find that helps me get some of the weight off my chest about the whole thing.”

One of the new Ambassador trainees is two-time Warrior Games competitor, 1st Lt. Ryan Novack. He achieved success with the adaptive sports program and is now looking to give back by spreading awareness about the program.

 “I actually look forward to talking to senior leaders about how they can help wounded warriors,” said Novack. “My leadership did some things right and some things not so right. In the end they helped me as best they could. I hope to educate leaders about how to set their wounded warriors up for success; show them how they can contribute greatly to the recovery of their Airmen.”

There are over 100 trained Ambassadors in AFW2 with seven more being added to that list at Nellis. Five of the wounded warriors being trained at this workshop are former Warrior Games competitors which is fitting since the Air Force Trials is the selection process for the Air Force team for the 2019 Department of Defense Warrior Games.

“While the Warrior Games really helped me physically I feel the Ambassador Program will help me increase my mental fortitude as I transition out of the military,” said Novack. “It will keep me connected to the Air Force and will help a program that I honestly feel saved my life.”

To hear the inspirational testimony of Novack and Cagle and others, contact the Ambassador Program at bradley.britt.1@us.af.mil or julie.rodriguez.3.ctr@us.af.mil.
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