Last week, 33 Recovery Care Coordinators and Army AW2 Advocates completed a DoD-sponsored training with the simple goal of providing them as much information as possible to help them succeed in their responsibility to assist wounded, ill and injured Service members and their families through recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration.
It is a responsibility that Sandra Valles, a new Recovery Care Coordinator (RCC) in San Antonio, takes very seriously. When her husband was wounded after a long career with the Marines, she and her family had to pave their own way.
“We didn’t have advocacy when my husband was injured, so this is a great asset that has evolved,” Sandra said. “It’s a much needed effort.”
In addition to helping connect her wounded Marines and families to the resources they need to meet their goals and successfully complete their recovery, Sandra also wants to make sure that every Service member and family member she works with knows they are not alone.
“I’m passionate about helping the Marines I’m going to be working with. I don’t want to see any more fall through the cracks like we did,” Sandra said. “It takes a toll on these families. It changed our whole life.”
Sandra said her experience as a wounded warrior wife puts her in a unique position to help others going through what she did. And the fact that her husband used to work as an RCC doesn’t hurt either. Sandra said she is looking forward to working together with him to solve problems and identify solutions.
Most of all, though, she is looking forward to working to make the lives of wounded, ill and injured Marines and their families better.
“They inspire me,” Sandra said. “I have a Marine, a triple amputee, who smiles! I can’t wait to work with him.”
Paul Doane, who will be working as an Advocate with the Army’s AW2 program, is also no stranger to the life and struggles of a wounded, ill or injured Service member. His first exposure to Advocates and RCCs came while he was working as the Charlie Company First Sergeant at the Fort Campbell Warrior Transition Brigade (WTB). Paul worked closely with the Advocates there and always admired their work and efforts.
When he was diagnosed with Graves disease, an auto-immune disorder affecting the thyroid, Paul knew he would never deploy again and started planning for his retirement. And he knew what he wanted to do once he left the military.
“I’ve been planning for two years to be an AW2 Advocate,” Paul said. “I’ve been doing for the past two years is what I am going to be telling my Soldiers to do: prepare.”
Paul will be working in Lebanon, Pennsylvania with members of the National Guard and the Army Reserves. He said he is looking forward to supporting the Soldiers who are often forgotten or “swept under the rug.”
“I’ll be that person that they can call if they need anything,” Paul said. “It’s not about the money, it’s about the Soldiers. It’s about anything I can do to help them. I think I’m in the right place.”
Congratulations to all the graduates of last week’s training and best of luck!