AFW2 Behind the Scenes: The Family We Choose

  • Published
  • By Julian Montgomery
  • Air Force Wounded Warrior Program

Family consists of the people that you are born to such as your mother, father, and siblings. Those ties are usually stronger than any other relationship throughout our lives, but the family that we choose can be just as strong as those we don’t choose. The Air Force Wounded Warrior (AFW2) Program emphasizes the strength of the family that we are born into, as well as, the family we choose.

The majority of my time with AFW2 has been as a coordinator for the Emergency Family Member Travel (EFMT) program. The EFMT program provides transportation for family members of wounded, ill, or injured Airmen to travel to their bedside and aid in their recovery. We accomplish this mostly by securing a flight for the family and arranging the reimbursement of travel expenses such as lodging.  It would be easy to say that I am a travel agent, and that wouldn’t be an inaccurate description,  but the difference between a travel agent for some vacation website and an EFMT coordinator boils down to family. 

When I receive a new case, I don’t see a name for whom I have to book a flight. I see an Airman’s mother, father, wife, husband, etc. I imagine that they are my own loved one as I assist them with their travel. My job requires being in constant contact with the family, which grants me the opportunity to have a personal rapport with them. Often, I am the first representative from AFW2 to contact the family, which means I am the first to show how we come together to take care of one another. The family travels to the Airman’s bedside to provide comfort and aid in recovery, while we take the stress away of travel logistics and provide a small level of relief where we can. As an example, a fellow EFMT coordinator made herself available to the mother of an injured Airman for weeks after the mother traveled back home and her case was closed.  Days, nights, and weekends, our coordinator stayed in contact with the Airman’s mother to check on the Airman’s progress and to provide comfort to her from one mother to another.

I’m proud to be with an organization like AFW2 that emphasizes the role of family. Whether it’s the family you are born into, or the Air Force family, we all come together to take care of our own. When Airmen are facing a difficult situation, AFW2 stands ready to assist not only the Airman, but their family as well. Our Recovery Care Coordinators (RCC) assist the family while bedside, and our Caregiver professionals provide great resources for caregivers to facilitate the healing process, while EFMT coordinators travel family anywhere in the world day, night, or weekend so that they can be together when it matters the most. All of this is done without question or hesitation, because that’s what family does for each other.