AFW2 briefs Airmen on resources

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Kimberly L. Mueller
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs

The Air Force Wounded Warrior program ambassadors told their stories to Keesler Airmen across base from June 6 to 8.

AFW2 provides support and services to wounded, ill and injured Airmen by providing nonmedical care support and helping facilitate some medical care support.

The nature of the military means that Airmen can become wounded, ill or injured in many ways, from combat, to cancer, or a car accident.

“There are so many diagnoses that could get someone enrolled into this program,” said Melissa Wiest, AFW2 outreach and ambassador program manager. “Anyone can do a referral. You can refer yourself, a coworker, a friend, one of your Airmen and so on.”

Master Sgt. Trevor Brewer, AFW2 ambassador, shared his story during the visit on how he was referred into the program after living through previously undiagnosed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

“The littlest sounds would set me off, like fireworks and doors slamming too loud,” said Brewer. “I was very irritable and drinking a lot. I’d actually go room to room in my house and yell ‘clear’ after every room I cleared. I was afraid somebody was coming to finish the job.”

In 2011 at age 22, Brewer was traveling to a deployment with 14 other Airmen. In the middle of their trip, a man had killed two of the Airmen he was travelling with and wounded two others with a gun.

“The man was probably about 12 inches in front of me,” said Brewer. “He pointed the gun at my head and pulled the trigger.”

The weapon malfunctioned. The man attempted to shoot Brewer one more time, but Brewer had already realized the weapon malfunctioned, immediately stood up and chased the man until the man was apprehended by authorities.

Following the incident, Brewer and his team were pulled from the deployment and returned to their home base.

He found that a return to normal life was more difficult than anticipated.

“I was put into a desk job and my weapons were taken away as a precaution,” said Brewer. “I was told to do my job, but all I could think about was this incident over and over in my head.”

One day when he was sitting at his computer staring, unable to do anything, Brewer became overwhelmed with everything that was going on. Resilience is defined as an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change, but it doesn’t mean remaining resilient is something to be done alone. He knew he needed help.

“I finally went to my supervisor with tears in my eyes and, and told him, ‘I don't know what to do.’” said Brewer.

Brewer’s supervisor took him to the mental health office, where he was diagnosed with PTSD.  “I was enrolled in AFW2 almost immediately because I was diagnosed with PTSD,” said Brewer.

Brewer was apprehensive of being judged for not having visible injuries.

“Seeing the guys that did lose their arms and their legs and the guys that have been through some serious stuff take me openly into the community was huge,” said Brewer.

Because of his diagnosis Brewer was put up for med board, but was ultimately determined fit to continue service.

“I think it’s important for supervisors and for young Airmen coming up the ranks to know there’s help available,” said Brewer.

Through the AFW2 ambassador program, Brewer has been able to share his story with other Airmen.

“About six years after my incident, I finally went to speak in November 2017. I stood in front of a crowd at Joint Base Andrews and told my story,” said Brewer. “When I stepped off that stage, a huge weight had just been lifted off of me.”

Brewer’s story was one of many shared by the AFW2 program with 81st Training Wing Airmen.

“It doesn't matter what you're going through,” said Wiest. “These are life changing events. We’re here to help and take some of the burden off of someone when they're going through a medical recovery.”

If you would like to refer someone to AFW2, visit https://www.woundedwarrior.af.mil/ or speak with your local Recovery Care Coordinator.