WASHINGTON, Nov. 17, 2014 —
The Defense Department will host a rehabilitation expo as part of Warrior Care Month as it continues its commitment to supporting wounded, ill and injured troops, their families and caregivers.
James Rodriguez, deputy assistant secretary of defense for the Office of Warrior Care Policy, discussed his office’s role in supporting wounded warriors, Warrior Care Month and the rehabilitation expo during an interview today with DoD News.
Office of Warrior Care Policy’s Role
“The Office of Warrior Care Policy has various programs designed to support recovering … warriors that are wounded, ill [or] injured,” he said.
“What we have,” Rodriguez said, “are programs that are designed to provide assistance in education employment, federal internships through our Operation Warfighter program, recovery care coordination care programs as well as … resources available to individuals.”
The office also has programs designed around adaptive sports, he said, which allow individuals to participate in sports as part of their recovery and rehabilitation process.
“What we ultimately want to do is have them recover, reintegrate and transition either back into uniform or transition into a new civilian environment,” Rodriguez said.
Warrior Care Month
November, designated as Warrior Care Month, is a recognition which began under former Defense Secretary Robert Gates to highlight resources available to wounded warriors, their families and caregivers, according to Rodriguez.
It allows the department to demonstrate the importance of what it means to support wounded warriors in the recovery process, Rodriguez said.
Warrior Care Month also allows DoD to highlight the available resources, he said, and to provide information that people may not know about certain recovery programs.
Meaning of the Warrior Care Month Theme
“Show of Strength” is the theme for Warrior Care Month, which Rodriguez said serves as a reminder of the “all-in” process of supporting injured troops and their families.
“We are supporting our warriors, our family members [and] our caregivers. So the programs and policies we have, have to be all-encompassing,” Rodriguez said. “So we have to make sure that we don’t forget about one particular audience throughout this entire process.”
Rehabilitation Expo Provides Opportunities
Rodriguez said the rehabilitation expo, scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Nov. 20 at the Pentagon’s second floor Apex 1-2, will provide opportunities for his office and the military services to support wounded warriors and their families.
“[It’s] an opportunity to highlight the resources we have available to support our wounded warriors and their families, as well as the caregivers,” he said.
“It brings a lot of various agencies into the Pentagon,” Rodriguez said, “… and allows them to provide information and resources to the caregivers, warriors and their families who are going to be here.”
Many nonprofit organizations will participate, he said, to highlight their resources that support wounded warriors, their families and caregivers.
The Office of Warrior Care Policy will also be there, Rodriguez said, along with the service departments that represent their individual branches of service to highlight their resources.
Rodriguez noted the expo will provide an opportunity for his office to learn directly from wounded warriors about their needs.
“It allows us to do things that we haven’t done -- to learn really -- from wounded warriors about the programs that we can develop to support them,” he said.
Rehabilitation Expo at a Glance
There will be quite a few things on display during the expo, Rodriguez said, as he explained some of the programs to be highlighted.
There’s going to be art, he said, as well as sculptures created by some of the wounded warriors as part of their recovery process.
“They got into art therapy, they got into sculpting, they got into adaptive sports,” Rodriguez said. “But they’re going to highlight a lot of these particular things that they’re going to have at the expo.
“Some of the wounded warriors are going to be on hand to talk about their experiences,” he continued, “[and] to talk about how they use art, sculpting [and] adaptive sports [as] part of their recovery process.”
Rodriguez said it will be a “good opportunity” for people who are unfamiliar with some of the programs provided by the services branches and the Office of Warrior Care Policy.
“It’s going to be an opportunity to interact with the service members to see the things that they’ve utilized to help them in the recovery process,” he said.
(Follow Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone Marshall on Twitter: @MarshallDoDNews)