Army Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Luciano, Senior Enlisted Advisor of the Defense Health Agency (Courtesy of the Military Health System)
When our warfighters become injured, their road to recovery can be a long, sometimes tedious, process. But even when stakes are high and the mounting obstacles seem overwhelming, our nation’s warriors face the challenges head on and show unwavering strength along the way. In celebrating Warrior Care Month in November, we recognize the critical mission of supporting wounded, ill, and injured service members by raising awareness of their struggles and triumphs. Echoing this year’s theme, “Show of Strength,” the Military Health System will celebrate the resiliency, achievements, and commitment of our warfighters, as well as their families and caregivers, throughout the month.
During my 33 years of service, I’ve had the fortune of knowing some of the strongest and most resilient people this country has to offer. I’ve worked alongside warfighters who have gone toe-to-toe with the toughest of adversaries, and I’ve seen some of the bravest at their most vulnerable. As a former combat medic who went through two tours in Iraq, I experienced the critical nature of direct patient care in an austere environment. Now, as a senior adviser for the Defense Health Agency, I contribute to patient care from behind the scenes. My goal has always remained the same: put the health and well-being of service members first.
People are our most valuable resource, and we remain committed to meeting their health care needs, on and off the battlefield. For transitioning service members, we continue to collaborate with the Department of Veterans Affairs and partner organizations to provide opportunities for service members, veterans, and their families.
We have made important strides toward institutionalizing warrior care policies and programs across the DoD, while forging strong relationships among partners. We no longer paint our service members’ psychological health conditions with a broad brush, using generic terms like “battle fatigue” and “shell shock.” Instead, we deliberately study and measure their injuries – both seen and hidden – ensuring our policies, programs, and resources meet their needs.
The success of recovery and transition comes from both medical and nonmedical care. Whether the issue is artificial limbs, dental reconstruction procedures, traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, or alternative medicine, warrior care has improved tremendously thanks to the unwavering commitment of our research and development community. Our mission to help wounded warfighters through recovery, rehabilitation, and reintegration is constantly evolving. As one success is met, another challenge will appear. In the MHS, we continuously strive to improve the manner in which we provide care to meet the needs in an ever-changing landscape.
Warrior Care Month helps raise awareness for available programs and resources, while also inspiring dialogue and action. As we honor warfighters this month, it’s important to remember that warrior care extends beyond November. There must never be a day when we do not provide our wounded, ill, and injured service members the best possible care and support. We continue to be inspired by their strength and we are here to serve them as they transition into a new chapter in their lives.
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