LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas-- Members of the Air Force Wounded Warrior Program (AFW2) visited Laughlin AFB to talk about PTSD Awareness Month and demonstrate what their program has to oﬀer from June 14 to 16, 2022.
“Being able to travel to bases like Laughlin AFB and talk about our program is such a humbling experience,” said U.S. Army Special Forces Command Sgt. Maj. (Ret.) Armando Franco, Air Force Wounded Warrior Program wellness and resiliency team leader. “We receive so much gratitude.”
“Even though Laughlin AFB is a remote base, the Airmen here have been exceptionally kind and thankful that we were able to come out,” continues Franco. “It has nothing to do with the location, and everything to do with our Airmen.”
The veterans shared their stories of trauma, suﬀering and hope. They brought a message of resiliency and openness, asking audience members to not hesitate to reach out for help or to help others.
“To be able to give Airmen the skills and knowledge that they need to successfully deal with PTSD is amazing,” said U.S. Air Force Staﬀ Sgt. (Ret.) Christine Davila-Lucier, Air Force Wounded Warrior Program Ambassador. “It feels like I have a purpose again.”
The AFW2 program’s goal is to provide all Airmen who identify as wounded warriors the available services so they can successfully recover and move forward with the essential resiliency skills to go about their daily lives. Each visiting ambassador emphasized that each Airman has a diﬀerent story and diﬀerent “scars,” but the road to recovery is the same. Nothing comes without struggle; however, it is the shared experiences that help each member feel connected to one another and provide them the way to heal.
From their mentorship program to their adaptive sports program, the AFW2 seeks to help wounded warriors through as many avenues as possible. During the ambassador's visit, they introduced multiple adaptive sports to Laughlin’s Airmen. Some of which included track, modiﬁed basketball and sitting volleyball.
“I thought the adaptive sports were great,” said SrA Jude Cruz, 47th Operations Support Squadron aerospace physiology technician. “I think it's a great idea to have these sports available to wounded warriors because it promotes a healthy lifestyle, helps build relationships, and is a great outlet for stress.”
Wounded warriors sharing what they do and what programs they are a part of is crucial for other service members to know that these options are available, should they need it for themselves or others in the future. It also opens up a door for further acknowledgement and support for those wounded warriors who are in need.
“I think it is important for wounded warriors to share what they do because it exposes Airmen to programs that are out there to support them,” said Cruz. “It also allows us to participate and bond with wounded warrior members by putting everyone in the same playing ﬁeld while playing these adaptive sports.”
The ambassadors highlighted how the program continues to have an increasing growth and success rate, but reiterated how crucial it is for every level within the chain of command, especially leadership, to advocate for their Airmen who stand to beneﬁt from it. They explained to the audience that steps and resources are always available to all, whether an individual is seeking help themselves or with the assistance of others.
“My advice for anyone struggling with PTSD would be to get help, talk to people, don’t isolate yourself, and don't be afraid to get in contact with mental health professionals,” said Davila-Lucier.
“Everybody uses a GPS on their phone to ﬁnd their way, but a lot of people don’t want to ﬁnd their way when it comes to mental health,” said Franco. “We think that’s essential.”
For more AFW2 information and resources, go to https://www.myairforcebeneﬁts.us.af.mil/Beneﬁt-Library/Federal-Beneﬁts/Air-Force-Wo unded-Warrior-Program-(AFW2)?serv=26.