Airman finds support through Air Force Wounded Warrior program

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Emily Beightol-Deyerle
  • 167th Airlift Wing

As Capt. Heather Wright waded through the muddy waters of the medical evaluation board process, she found her way to the Air Force Wounded Warrior Program (AFW2), joined the Air Force Warrior Games Team and earned an impressive collection of medals.

Wright competed at the Air Force Trials at Nellis Air Force Base, in March, alongside 150 fellow wounded, ill, and injured service members for a spot on the 2019 Air Force Warrior Games team.

At the trials, she participated as an Ultimate Champion, competing in all eight individual sports- swimming, shooting, rowing, cycling, field, track, archery, and powerlifting. She finished in third place.

In June, Wright represented the Air Force in the 2019 Department of Defense Warrior Games in Tampa Bay, Fla. She competed in 12 events in five sports and brought home seven medals for Team Air Force.

“For the second year in a row, Team Air Force dominated the overall medal count,” Wright said.

The Warrior Games were established in 2010 as a way to enhance the recovery and rehabilitation of wounded, ill and injured service members and introduces them to adaptive sports.

This year, more than 300 athletes from the U.S. Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, U.K. Armed Forces, Australian Defence Force and Canadian Armed Forces competed in the Warrior Games.

But Wright stresses that AFW2 does far more than introduce Airmen to competitive adaptive sports.

The program takes care of seriously wounded, ill and injured Airmen, caregivers and their families. The goal is to leave them well-equipped to manage challenges, regardless of injury or illness.

“They provide family style care and are with you through your journey; whether you are returned to duty or transition to temporary or permanent retirement,” Wright said. “They truly embody care beyond duty.”

Wright, who enlisted into the 167th Airlift Wing’s emergency management and then went on to commission as a critical care nurse, was encouraged by her mother, Barbara Wright, to self-refer to the AFW2 program.

Soon after being accepted into the program, she was assigned a Recovery Care Coordinator who traveled from Dover Air Force Base to Martinsburg, W.Va., to meet with her and explain the advocacy and support that she would receive through the AFW2 program.

AFW2 offers six CARE events at various Air Force locations each year. CARE is an acronym for Caregiver Support, Adaptive Sports and Ambassador Workshop, Recovering Airmen Mentorship Program and Resiliency Program, and Empowerment in Training. These are the support elements of the AFW2 program.

Wright attended her first CARE event with her mother in August 2018 and trained to be a mentor through the Recovering Airman Mentorship Program. They plan to attend another CARE event in November where they will receive training to become ambassadors, “equipping us to share our story and encourage others,” Wright said.

For more information about the Air Force Wounded Warrior program visit their website at