“Quit” Doesn’t Exist In Their Vocabulary
August 31, 2007
Sgt. Thomas Davis has a special job. His job is to teach young Soldiers about IED’s. It’s a topic that he’s well versed on and has first hand knowledge. In June 2006, near Ramadi, Sgt. Davis lost his leg because of an IED that blew up his Humvee. Sgt. Davis is one of more than 2100 Soldiers working in the Army’s Wounded Warrior (AW2) program. The program was initially established in 2004 as a Disabled Soldier Support System, and is designed to assist and advocate for severely wounded Soldiers and their families. As well, the AW2 program offers help with rehabilitation and transition back into the Army or into the civilian community. Davis never had any thoughts of getting out of the Army, even while he was receiving treatment at Walter Reed.
“I like the military life,” he said. “I love being in the Infantry - training and leading Soldiers. The first thing I asked at Walter Reed was if I could stay in and what to do.”
He was able to stay in the Army and now has the job of training 2nd Battalion, 29th Infantry, 197th Infantry Brigade Soldiers on how to deal with explosive devises. It appears to be a good match for him. Brigade Cmd. Sgt. Major Joe Leggette says he has been pushing for the last year to utilize more Wounded Warriors as instructors.
“Even if they are wounded in combat, they are still able to bring the knowledge they used in combat to young forces,” explained Leggette. “The Wounded Warrior needs our assistance. We need to take care of the guys who take care of us in combat.”
After a year, the 197th now has 7 Wounded Warriors as instructors. Leggette is hoping that there will eventually be 25 Wounded Warriors to fill positions training Soldiers. He feels that the program is working well. Each Wounded Warrior, as they transition into the unit is assigned a sponsor and Leggette as well as the post CSM meet with the AW2 soldiers on a monthly basis.
“Our job is to make sure they are taken care of,” Leggette says. “I am going to ensure they stay in the Army.”
According to Davis, his fellow instructors and the leadership treat him like a regular soldiers. Davis is a husband and a father of two, with a third child on the way. His plans are to remain in the Army for at least the next 5 years and take advantage of all the military schools he can, that are offered at Fort Benning, including Airborne school. His ultimate goal is to return to a line unit and do the job he was doing prior to his injury.
Davis feels that his position teaching trainees about IED and his experience will help new Soldiers pay attention, which he says is the “mother of all ironies.” The Army’s philosophy about injuries has changed drastically over the years and the leadership is coming to realize that the skills and experiences that Wounded Warriors experienced is a valuable asset and can hopefully save the lives of new Soldiers.
“They have been through lots of training and can still give back,” said Lt. Col. Kevin Arata, Human Resourcese Command Public Affairs Officer.
In order for a Wounded Warrior to qualify for the AW2 program, they must be at least 30 % disable and either Active Duty, National Guard or Reserves. According to Arata, the top 5 injuries they deal with are amputation, PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury, Paralysis and some type of blindness or vision loss. Once they’re accepted in the program, the Soldier will be assigned a Family management specialist. They are located across the United States, at installations, treatment facilities and Veterans Administration centers. The family management specialist maps out with the Soldier what they want to do and what they are able to do. The specialists educate employers on what the Wounded Warriors are able to do. According to Arata, the Army wants to make sure that it lives up to it’s Warrior Ethos: “I Will Never Leave A Fallen Comrade, And Together We WILL NOT QUIT!”