By Kendra Williams, 55th Wing Public Affairs
/ Published January 14, 2020
Master Sgt. Michael Myers, Office of the Warrior Advocate superintendent and Air Force Wounded Warrior ambassador, shares his personal story at an OWA Invisible Wounds luncheon at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., Dec. 16, 2019. The OWA empowers and advocates for non-wounded, wounded, ill or injured Airmen as they adapt to life with new circumstances. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kendra Williams)
The Office of the Warrior Advocate is a program unique to Offutt Air Force Base, and currently the only one in the Air Force.
The OWA empowers and advocates for non-wounded, wounded, ill or injured Airmen as they adapt to life with new circumstances. This is accomplished by connecting Airmen with appropriate agencies and resources and by providing support, education and guidance.
A common misconception surrounding the OWA is that if someone wasn’t injured in combat they cannot use the services offered. It is for all service members affected by visible or invisible wounds as well as family members and care givers.
The program offers assistance on a walk-in basis and even provides short or long-term flexible work environments for Airmen who are unable to fulfil their previous roles due to their condition.
“Airmen can be assigned to our office one or two days a week where they can schedule their appointments on those days but still be able to come in during their appointments to get work accomplished if available,” said Rebecca Luther, 55th Wing, OWA director. “We have five work stations for them to be able to bring their work in and complete while they are in our office.”
Among other events, monthly luncheons are hosted by the OWA to grow the community and offer opportunities for new connections among those currently and previously affected by visible or invisible wounds.
“Our first luncheon on Offutt was held in September 2019,” said Luther. “The concept is to get Airmen together to help grow and expand peer to peer support.”
Retired Air Force Capt. Rob Hufford, AFW2 Ambassador, spoke at the December luncheon where he shared his personal story that began with being diagnosed with epilepsy, being referred to AFW2 and ultimately finding a community of support with the OWA and AFW2. Hufford currently works in the 55th Civil Engineer Squadron office on base.
“I was diagnosed with epilepsy about six years into my career and from that I had brain surgery and was ultimately removed from duty. [AFW2] itself has drastically helped me recover,” said Rob Hufford, retired Air Force Captain. “It literally and figuratively got me to where I am today.”
The OWA and AFW2’s goals are both focused on assisting Airmen on their road to recovery or adjusting to a new way of living. The AFW2 program is a transformational program for seriously ill or injured service members who are undergoing Emergency Medical Evaluation Boards. There are four areas within the AFW2 community used to support those in the program: ambassadorship opportunities, a sports program, transition assistance, and support for the care-givers of injured or ill service members.