HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah -- No other time than during the current pandemic has the Air Force’s mental health, family advocacy, and other support programs been so important. One program – the Air Force Wounded Warrior Program – has been essential in providing wounded, ill, and injured Airmen a place to turn for assistance.
The Air Force Wounded Warrior Program is a federally-funded organization tasked with providing personalized restorative care for Airmen in need, with a goal of leaving them well-equipped to manage challenges, regardless of injury or illness.
When an Airman receives a medical or mental health diagnosis that has rendered his or her fitness for retention questionable, in steps in Ken Beaulieu, Utah’s Air Force Wounded Warrior recovery care coordinator, who works with Airmen who are facing possible separation due to injury or illness. If an Airman meets the criteria for separation, Beaulieu creates a personalized plan to help them make the difficult transition.
“I derive the greatest pleasure and satisfaction working to secure the entitlements and benefits earned by Utah’s wounded, ill and injured Airmen,” Beaulieu said.
To begin the AFW2 enrollment process Airmen may self-refer by visiting the recovery care coordinator in the 75th Medical Group Clinic, or they may be referred by someone responsible for their ongoing medical care, such as a unit leader or first sergeant.
A pre-enrollment interview is conducted to determine eligibility. Written authorization is obtained to allow Beaulieu to speak with members of the Airman’s Care Management Team, which may consist of a unit commander, chief, first sergeant, supervisor, the primary care provider, medical care case manager, mental health providers and others. Once interviews are completed, an Air Force Wounded Warrior Enrollment Referral Worksheet is forwarded to the AFW2 Wounded Ill and Injured cell at the Air Force Personnel Center, and a panel of five members review the worksheet and render a decision.
“Once enrolled, I conduct a thorough needs assessment with the Airman that brings to light any non-medical needs that may be present, or can be reasonably expected to become a necessity in the Airman’s potential transition out of the Air Force,” Beaulieu said. “I always begin with the end in mind that the Airman may have to leave the Air Force and my job is to make sure they are ready.”
If the Airman is found fit and returned to duty, he or she now has direct knowledge of AFW2 and can use that knowledge to refer other Airman or encourage others to self-refer. If an Airman is found unfit to return to duty, a personalized Interagency Recovery Plan is developed that will provide goals and action items to help an Airman with their transition from Air Force.
“There is great satisfaction in preparing or helping an Airmen successfully transition and face life as a veteran with a bit less uncertainty and a bit more or a positive outlook toward their future,” Beaulieu said. “I truly do have one of the best jobs in the Department of Defense.”
Commanders, chiefs, first sergeants, and supervisors who are aware of Airmen facing medical evaluation boards due to post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury or other complex medical conditions can contact Beaulieu for assistance by calling 801-866-5274. For more information about Air Force Wounded Warrior visit www.woundedwarrior.af.mil.