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Senior Enlisted Spouses Discuss Wounded Troop Programs

By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 9, 2006 – Spouses of the military's senior enlisted leaders gathered here today to learn about each service's program for wounded troops and to share ideas for the future.

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Marine Gunnery Sgt. J.A. Burks, a representative for the Marine for Life program, speaks to the spouses of senior enlisted leaders during a conference at the Pentagon, May 9. Photo by Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
  

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The wives of the senior enlisted leaders from the combatant commands and the service senior enlisted advisors met at the Pentagon in conjunction with their husbands' conference, which is being sponsored by Army Command Sgt. Maj. William J. Gainey, senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Gainey's wife, Cindy Gainey, organized the conference for spouses to give them a chance to network and open the lanes of communication, she said.

"I decided this was a perfect way for me to meet them and to get some good information out to them at the same time, and to be able to share ideas and that sort of thing," she said.

A lot of spouses at the senior enlisted level don't have many peers to discuss things with, Gainey said, so she wants this conference to establish good working relationships.

"A lot of the commands have the same issues and concerns, and you don't realize that until you talk to someone else," she said.

Today the spouses heard from representatives from each service's program for severely wounded troops. They received briefings on the Army's Wounded Warrior Program, the Air Force's Palace HART (Helping Airmen Recover Together) program, the Navy's Safe Harbor program, and the Marine Corps' Marine for Life program.

The Army, Air Force and Navy programs all provide assistance to servicemembers who are severely injured due to combat or terrorism. Typical qualifying injuries are those resulting in loss of limbs or sight, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, and post-traumatic stress disorder. The Marine program assists any current or former Marine who was injured, regardless of where or how the injury was suffered.

Each program representative outlined the assistance the program provides to servicemembers, how the program is staffed and supported, and what the goals are for the future. All four speakers emphasized that if wounded servicemembers desire to stay on active duty, their respective services will do everything they can to make that happen.

The spouses were especially interested in mental health services being provided to Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, and the assistance with transition to civilian life. Gainey said she hopes the spouses will take the information they heard today and share it with their communities back home.

"I just hope that these ladies can go back to their commands and just spread the word," she said.

Before hearing about the wounded troop programs, the spouses heard from Command Sgt. Maj. Gainey, who shared with them his philosophy about his job and leadership. He explained to the spouses that he is not meant to take the place of any of their husbands, but to act as a link between servicemembers and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Gainey also stressed the importance of joint service cooperation, saying that enthusiasm and commitment are universal.

"No matter what uniform you wear, the pride you have in your service you can share with the other services," he said.

Later in the day, the spouses were to travel to Walter Reed Army Medical Center to visit wounded troops, and tomorrow they are scheduled for a Pentagon tour.

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Related Sites:
Command Sgt. Maj. William J. Gainey, USA
U.S. Army Wounded Warrior Program
Navy Safe Harbor
Marine for Life

Click photo for screen-resolution imageAir Force Lt. Col. Dan Merry, a representative for the Air Force Palace HART (Helping Airmen Recover Together) program, speaks to the spouses of senior enlisted leaders during a conference at the Pentagon, May 9. Photo by Sgt. Sara Wood, USA  
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