Career Coordinator, U.S. Army Wounded Warrior Program (AW2)
Roberta Berry began her career with the U.S. Army Wounded Warrior Program (AW2) in August 2005 as a Soldier Family Management Specialist (today called an AW2 Advocate). During this time, there were only 16 Advocates, each handling 50-75 Soldiers. Berry’s Soldiers were located in Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, Kansas, Colorado, and North and South Dakota. She remembers how Soldiers had to travel to the major Army hospitals in San Antonio and Washington, D.C. for treatment because Warrior Transition Units (WTUs) were not yet created.
“AW2 Advocates today have the Advocate Support Branch, which is a team of subject matter experts who specialize in finance, VA resources, education and more. Back then, though, we were all learning together how to support the wounded, ill and injured,” Berry explained. “We were the trailblazers, building lasting relationships with organizations that Advocates can use now.”
In 2006, the Army added 30 AW2 Advocates to the team to provide more individualized and local support to AW2 Soldiers, Veterans and Families. Today there are more than 200 AW2 Advocates across the country at WTUs, Army facilities and VA locations.
In May 2008, Berry transitioned to the AW2 Career and Education Section at AW2, part of the Advocate Support Branch, where she ensures AW2 Soldiers, Veterans, Families and Caregivers have the resources they need to set and pursue career and education goals. Berry works directly with employers implementing the AW2 expedited application process for federal positions. She and her colleagues created the job readiness assessment, which AW2 Advocates administer to their Soldiers upon entry to the program. Currently, Berry is working with AW2 Advocates to ensure that Soldiers and Veterans can have face to face or virtual interviews with participating employers at the Department of the Navy Fourth Annual Wounded Warrior Hiring and Support Conference .
Involved in AW2 from almost the very beginning, Berry has seen many of the Soldiers and Veterans on her caseload transition out of the medical treatment phase and become self-sufficient over the years. Many current policies for wounded warriors also reflect the practices Berry and the early AW2 Advocates utilized before policies were created, such as the expedited referral packet.
The driving force behind Berry’s decision to work with AW2 is Family. Her father retired from the Army after serving in Vietnam, so she can relate to the younger kids in AW2 Families whose parents are fighting overseas today. Berry promised her father that she would do the best she could to take care of other Soldiers just like him.
“We were kids during Vietnam and now we’re adults and taking care of the next generation,” said Berry. Her husband also served in the Navy and is retired.”
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