News | Oct. 17, 2019

Creating a culture of caring

By Chip Pons Air Force Wounded Warrior Program

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas-- Each month, the Air Force Wounded Warrior Program (AFW2) will feature a different theme that is tied to the overall mission of the congressionally mandated and federally funded program.

The theme for the month of October is connectedness.

AFW2 strives to continually feed and maintain a culture of caring. One that empowers everyone to seek help early and often, regardless of rank or career field.

“Creating a culture of caring helps build interpersonal connections and allows Airmen, warriors and families to have faith in their Air Force family,” said Col. Mike Flatten, AFW2 care division chief. “Our program has the honor of sharing how we provide personalized restorative care to seriously wounded, ill and injured Airmen, caregivers and families.”

“It has taken a long time for us as an organization to realize it is our Airmen that make our Air Force special,” he continued. “Let us help remind leaders that it is Airmen over Institution.”

In September, the Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein encouraged his Airmen to take a pause to connect as a team and to reevaluate how we are doing business through his Resilience Tactical Pause.

Trained AFW2 ambassadors have been traveling across the Air Force to support Goldfein’s plan to address the growing suicide rates, educating their wingmen on the program, as well as sharing deeply personal and compelling testimonies of resiliency in every shape and form from Invisible Wounds and combat related injuries to seriously ill Airmen and caregiver support.

“We can grow an Airman, develop them as leaders, deploy them and discipline them, because all of that training has been provided to us,” said Tony Jasso, AFW2 action officer. “But we don’t necessarily get training on how to care for them. There is a culture of fear that if you speak up, you’ll lose your ability to remain on active duty. AFW2 is working tirelessly to change that stigma. The first goal of our program is to always return Airmen to duty.”

“Get to know the struggles of those around you and that our Airmen are having,” he continued. “There is a human element of the armed service. Establishing that connection can help us move beyond where we are right now. We cannot complete the mission without our people.”