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23 November 2021

From Anna Marie G. General, Navy Region Hawaii Public Affairs

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii - Recovery, Rehabilitation and Reintegration are the three R’s that make up the success of the Wounded Warrior program. As part of their observance of Warrior Care Month, the Navy Region Hawaii Wounded Warrior team hosted several events on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH) for the month of November to honor and recognize Navy wounded warriors.
(Editor's note: This article is Part I of a two-part series in support of Warrior Care Month)

Recovery, Rehabilitation and Reintegration are the three R’s that make up the success of the Wounded Warrior program.

As part of their observance of Warrior Care Month, the Navy Region Hawaii Wounded Warrior team hosted several events on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH) for the month of November to honor and recognize Navy wounded warriors.

This year’s theme is “Virtual Show of Strength,” which represents the physical, mental, spiritual and emotional strides Sailors and Coast Guardsmen, as well as their caregivers and families, make to overcome challenges.

Sailors, Department of Defense civilians and family members celebrated Warrior Care Month during the fifth annual cake-cutting ceremony at the Pearl Harbor Memorial Fountain on JBPHH, Nov. 17, to highlight Navy wounded warriors’ road to recovery and personal triumphs while they share their stories with the community.

Rear Adm. Timothy Kott, commander, Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, provided remarks in support of Warrior Care Month.

“It is an honor for all of us to be here to recognize Wounded Warrior Care Month. It’s really a recognition of three parts – the wounded warriors themselves, their family members that support them and the people administering the Wounded Warrior program,” said Kott. “All three of them make the program what it is. I look forward to hearing the stories from our wounded warriors.”

Two members of the Wounded Warrior program shared their stories with the community.

Lt. j.g. Elizabeth Hwang, a wounded warrior assigned to Commander, Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, reflected on how being a part of the Wounded Warrior program has impacted her life.

“My journey as a recovering service member began when I was 23 years old,” said Hwang. “I had been suffering from a condition that sparked painful flare-ups and also impacted my mobility to do simple tasks such as pushing a grocery cart and vacuuming, which became challenging for me.”

A former avid long-distance runner, she was faced with chronic debilitating pain which was diagnosed as chronic.

“I was introduced to the Wounded Warrior program by one of my shipmates after I was placed on limited duty,” Hwang said. “He felt that I would benefit from their support and he was absolutely right.”

“Being stationed in Hawaii without my husband and family, and going through intensive medical treatments was very isolating. The Wounded Warrior program became an immediate support system,” Hwang added. “I want to express how grateful I am to be part of Navy Region Hawaii’s Wounded Warrior program and I credit the team with the significant progress I have made in managing my condition.”

Senior Chief Nathaniel “Nate” Wilson, spoke on behalf of his wife, Religious Program Specialist 1st Class Elizabeth Wilson, a wounded warrior assigned to JBPHH, who was unable to attend the ceremony due to a medical procedure.

“It is a privilege to be here in honor of my wife and to be reading her speech regarding her journey,” said Senior Chief Wilson.

In Elizabeth’s own words… “Navy Wounded Warrior program has helped me tremendously this year. Despite everything that I’ve been through, I’m still standing positive greeting Sailors every day that would walk through the chaplain’s office doors. In 2011, I slipped and fell with my then 5-year-old baby, injured my tailbone and blacked out. At the time I did not know that I hit my head until months later. It took a whole year before I got an MRI and when I did, it was showing a hematoma on my brain. Little did I know my life would change drastically,” she wrote as her husband read her speech.

This year she enrolled into the Wounded Warrior program and the team helped her get the tools she needed.

“If it was not for the Wounded Warrior program, I would not have been honest and open with myself with all the help I needed because I was isolated,” said Elizabeth Wilson. “In my heart, the Navy Wounded Warrior program can help more Sailors remain resilient and finish their obligated service if they are aware of what help they can receive and what can be achievable. I’m glad and blessed that I was captured at the right time of my life and career before it was too late, meaning myself still coming to work, sharing a smile and my story. Thank you Navy Wounded Warrior program for giving me the help and support and in giving me the resources and rehab, allowing me the opportunity to continue to take better care of myself and family.”

Kott captured the spirit of Warrior Care Month in his remarks.

“The Wounded Warrior Care program [Warrior Care Month] is a great month because it makes you aware of the program with the history of it just beyond the medical care,” said Kott. “Wounded Warrior Care brings out all the other resources as an advocate and a place to go for family members and themselves to help them facilitate the administrative processes, transition, and just helping them with their recovery of their injuries, rehabilitation and reintegration. It’s just another organization to enhance the medical care and help our warriors to every resource available to them.”

Warrior Care Month was established on Nov. 5, 2008 by former Secretary of Defense Robert F. Gates as a Department of Defense effort aimed at increasing awareness of programs and resources available to wounded, ill, and injured service members, their families, and those who care about them.

For more information about the Navy Wounded Warrior program, visit their website here.

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