Sailors and Coast Guardsman may self-refer to the program or be referred by family members, command leadership or medical providers.
Making a Connection
Stay in Contact
Check in with wounded warriors and be a presence throughout their recovery and rehabilitation. This demonstrates your concern for their welfare, counters feelings of abandonment and boosts morale.
- Visit the wounded warrior at the treatment facility or at home at mutually-agreed upon times.
- Acknowledge the injury/illness and its impact on the wounded warrior.
- Ask the wounded warrior about how they are feeling and coping.
- Talk with the wounded warrior about the injury/illness when they are able and ready.
- Ask about the wounded warrior’s treatment progress.
- Listen non-judgmentally to the wounded warrior’s past and present experiences regarding their injury/illness, current treatment, and the medical and administrative processes.
- Speak with family members and ask how you can help them.
- Speak with the wounded warrior’s Physical Evaluation Board Liaison Officer (PEBLO) – if facing a Medical or Physical Evaluation Board – and stay apprised of the wounded warrior’s status.
How to listen…
Ask brief and simple questions that show interest in the wounded warrior’s well-being:
- “What was that like?”
- “What happened next?”
Respond with verbal and non-verbal messages of care and support:
- “How terrible.”
- “I’m so sorry.”
- Allow the wounded warrior to express what they are feeling or to cry without criticism or judgment.
Do not try to dismiss or minimize what the wounded warrior is feeling:
- “You have to pull yourself together.”
- “It could be a lot worse.”
Refrain from offering unsolicited advice or shifting the focus to your experiences:
- “I know exactly how you feel.”
Follow up on providing any help needed or requested by the wounded warrior or family.
- Offer to provide or arrange practical help as needed (e.g., transportation to appointments, pets to be fed, home improvements to be done).
- Work with NWW to connect wounded warriors and their families with non-medical support services as needed. (e.g., financial counseling, child care).
- Encourage the wounded warrior to stay involved in personal relationships and parenting (if they have children). Work with NWW to provide the use of telephones, email or video chat to talk with spouses and children.
- Write letters of recommendation.
- Connect the wounded warrior with other service members who have rehabilitated from injuries or illnesses.
- Allow for time off duty to attend scheduled appointments. Accompany the wounded warrior if appropriate.
Brief the wounded warrior on the potential impact of their injury/illness on their career.
Explain when they would likely require a:
- Limited Duty Board
- Medical Evaluation Board
- Physical Evaluation Board
Return to duty
If the wounded warrior is returned to duty within the unit, brief the unit and explain how service members can support the wounded warrior’s reintegration. Ask if the wounded warrior needs any accommodations or adaptive equipment to perform their duty, and arrange for these to be in place.
If the wounded warrior is returned to duty in a new assignment, help them with out-processing and encourage them to contact the gaining unit to arrange a sponsor.
Separated or retired
If the wounded warrior is unable to return to duty and is involuntarily separated or retired, brief them on administrative procedures and provide information on transition programs (e.g., Transition GPS, Heroes to Hometowns).Throughout the recovery and rehabilitation process, wounded warriors need support from many different sources to help them meet the emotional and physical challenges of healing and transitioning.