Staff Sgt. Giovanni Pascasio participated in a “Death March” in White Sands, N.M. in 2009.
SSG Giovanni Pascasio
Shrapnel wounds to hip, arms and legs; second and third degree burns over 30 percent of body: face, head, neck, right hand and arm
Staff Sgt. Giovanni Pascasio remembers waking up in a hospital bed. He remembers looking to his right leg, then his left. He remembers moving his arms, realizing he was able to keep them despite the shrapnel wounds and second and third degree burns that covered over 30 percent of his body—injuries sustained in combat in Iraq in 2007.
Pascasio recovered at a Warrior Transition Battalion (WTB) at Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas. The U.S. Army Wounded Warrior Program (AW2) connected him with an AW2 Advocate while he was still in the hospital, and they bonded immediately. “She would visit me if not every day then every other day,” said Pascasio of his AW2 Advocate. She was knowledgeable about Veteran benefits such as Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance Traumatic Injury Protection (TSGLI) and social security, and kept him on top of his appointments. “We would talk for hours. She was always attentive and always willing to help me,” said Pascasio.
Pascasio worked with his AW2 Advocate and his mother, who doubled as his Non-Medical Attendant (NMA), to create a Comprehensive Transition Plan that would enable him to meet his goals as he recovered and transitioned. Though he continued to improve physically, Pascasio struggled with his guilt and anger. “I blamed myself for everything that happened,” he said. “I didn’t give up on life, but I gave up on the Army. I felt like I wasn’t fit to be in.”
With guidance from his AW2 Advocate, and inspired by other Soldiers he met at the WTB, Pascasio decided to apply for Continuation on Active Duty (COAD)—a program designed for Soldiers who have been found unfit for duty by a Physical Evaluation Board (PEB) but are interested in continuing to serve in the Army.
Pascasio currently serves as an Operations Sergeant at Warrior Care and Transition in the AW2 Advocate Support Branch, a job he was recommended for by his AW2 Advocate. He is also working toward an associate degree in general studies at the University of Maryland University College.
“AW2 was instrumental in helping me put together my five year plan. I’ve hit four out of my five goals,” said Pascasio of his accomplishments. He plans on obtaining a bachelor’s degree with a major in emergency management services and a minor in homeland security.
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