Taking care of wounded Airmen

Chief Master Sgt. Rodney J. McKinley

Air Force Command Chief

Our Air Force is engaged in the Global War on Terrorism. On a daily basis, our Airmen are involved in air and ground combat actions. Because we are Airmen warriors, many have been wounded – and many have made the ultimate sacrifice.

Our Service has a long history of taking care of its Airmen. It’s important that every one of our Airmen know the Air Force is committed to providing the same level of resources, planning and implementation toward caring for our combat-related ill and injured as it does in preparing Airmen for deployment and combat.

During my travels, I’ve learned that few know about our Air Force programs for taking care of wounded warriors. Those are the Survivor Assistance Program and Palace HART, or Helping Airmen Recover Together.

In 2003, the Survivor Assistance Program expanded to help commanders provide assistance to wounded-in-action and seriously injured and ill personnel and their families. The backbone of the program is the family liaison officer. A FLO is assigned to each seriously ill or injured Airman at every stopping point and treatment facility from the time they leave their area of operations. The FLO’s mission is straightforward: stay close to the family, help them with whatever they need, and serve as a go-between for those not familiar with the military’s way of doing things.

Palace HART follows our Airmen and their families through treatment, recovery, and if needed, into a post-separation period. Palace HART leverages other outstanding Air Force programs and benefits like the Airman and Family Readiness Centers, Casualty Assistance Program, Emergency Family Medical Travel and Traumatic Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance into a cohesive and productive force for our wounded Airmen.

Palace HART Airmen can expect to receive world-class personnel services support, plus financial, entitlements and benefits counseling.

If their injuries necessitate a medical discharge, Palace HART follows the Airmen and their families for up to five years to assist with extended transition assistance, employment applications, civilian job searches, financial planning and assistance, relocation and integrating back into civilian communities.

The program also helps wounded Airmen access Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Labor services and information.

We demand incredibly high levels of commitment, loyalty, and excellence from our Airmen; they expect the same from us. So please help us inform Airmen at all levels about these great programs.

This knowledge will serve as comfort and assurance to our Airmen – who are deploying in ever-increasing numbers – that the Air Force is dedicated to providing comprehensive medical care and wide-ranging services should the need arise.

Through the Survivor Assistance Program and Palace HART, our wounded Airmen are getting, and will continue to get, the care they deserve.