Brig. Gen. Darryl A. Williams, Commander, U.S. Army Warrior Transition Command, hosted the ceremony, in part, as a way to recognize the significance of AW2 and its mission. Although bittersweet for Williams because Gadson will be taking command of Fort Belvoir next week, he knows Karcher will dedicate himself to advocating for severely wounded, ill and injured soldiers, veterans and families as the new AW2 director.
For the last two years, Col. Gadson, a double amputee, oversaw the nonmedical case management for nearly 11,000 severely wounded, ill and injured AW2 soldiers, veterans, and their families.
There is an old saying that says you can’t really understand a person’s experience until you have walked a mile in their shoes. Well, Col. Karcher, a double amputee himself, has walked in his own prosthetic legs and Army boots for the last couple years.
“I wanted nothing more than to remain in the Army and continue leading Soldiers and continuing the fight,” said Karcher. “Brig. Gen. Williams called me on a Friday night and asked me to become the next director of AW2. Then, Command Sgt. Maj. Benjamin H. S. Scott, Jr. talked to me and sold me on the position, a sacred responsibility. I knew that I couldn’t walk or roll anywhere else, this was where I was supposed to be.”
Karcher will be continuing Gadson’s vision for AW2 soldiers, veterans and their families, helping them transition, or graduate, to the next stages of their lives with self-sufficiency. As they transition and find their new normal, AW2 soldiers, veterans and their families can reach to AW2 if they need to.
“This is an opportunity to do what leaders do, take care of soldiers, veterans and their families,” said Karcher. “AW2 advocates for them when the path is muddled, to bridge the gap between Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs, and to ease the transition to whatever the soldier is determined to do. Helping folks get to the next event of their lives.”
At the end of the ceremony, both Gadson and Karcher addressed the audience. Gadson thanked the AW2 staff for their dedication and was humbled to represent them and the mission of AW2 for the last two years.
Karcher pledged to commit himself to easing the burden of soldiers, veterans and their families by working with their champions, the AW2 staff. “It is a daunting task, but together we will make a difference and maintain the high standards set by Col. Gadson,” he said.
Congratulations to Col. Karcher on his new assignment as AW2 director and congratulations to Col. Gadson who starts his new assignment as garrison commander next week.
About Col. Karcher
Col. Karcher has served in the Army for more than 20 years and held staff and leadership positions from platoon through corps level, deploying three times in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). During his third deployment, in June 2009, his vehicle was struck by an explosively formed penetrator, resulting in the amputation of his legs above the knee. He has been recovering and rehabilitating at Brooke Army Medical Center. He decided to continue his service in the Army through the Continue on Active Duty program.
Karcher is a graduate of the University of Missouri – Columbia, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Political Science. He also earned two master’s degrees from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. He is a graduate of the Infantry Officer Basic Course, the Armor Officer Advance Course, and the School of Advanced Military Studies.
He served in various command and staff positions and then served as a small group instructor at the Infantry Captains Career Course. He also served as a Corps Planner on the III Corps and Multi-National Corps – Iraq staffs. In almost four years of combat operations, he served as the Battalion Operations Officer, 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry; the Battalion Executive Officer, 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry; and the 3rd Brigade Operations Officer.
During OIF 06-08, he also served as a Brigade Military Transition Team (MiTT) Chief. While advising an Iraqi Army Brigade, he received a gunshot wound to the left arm. He evacuated, recovered and rehabilitated, and returned to his unit to serve as the Provincial Police Transition Team Chief. He then commanded 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment before being severely wounded when his vehicle was struck by an explosive.
Karcher’s awards and decorations include: the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Iraqi Campaign Medal, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the Expert Infantryman’s Badge, the United States Army Ranger Tab, and the Airborne Badge.