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Wounded Warrior Care: Practical Applications in Strategic Communications

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Now in a different position outside of government service, it was neat to revisit the Warrior Care Month and learn from Robert Hastings, APR, just how the plan was executed and how the program continues to grow.

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“After the war itself, we have no higher priority than caring properly for our wounded.” — Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates.

Last November, Secretary Gates designated the month as “Warrior Care Month” to communicate the Department of Defense’s commitment to quality care to our service members and their families. In my former position as community relations manager for the Army & Air Force Exchange Service, we assisted in the communication of the program and messages through various media including social media channels. Now in a different position outside of government service, it was neat to revisit this campaign and learn from the source how the plan was executed and how the program continues to grow.

Robert Hastings, APR, discussed the strategic principles used to develop this far reaching campaign:

  • Leadership-driven 
  • Credible 
  • Understanding 
  • Dialogue 
  • Pervasive 
  • Unity of Effort 
  • Results-based 
  • Responsive 
  • Continuous

It is important to note this campaign was developed with a centralized plan and thorough coordination with Department of Defense and sister services, but implemented through decentralized execution. The services were empowered to carry the campaign messages and facilitate activities that would specifically cater to their internal communities. Maintenance of a decentralized execution required the use of a steering committee and shared master lists of initiatives. This campaign took hold and implemented quickly because it had Secretary Gates’ and other senior leaders’ support.

Secretary Gates advised the planning team to focus on the primary audience, tell the truth, admit mistakes and not to make promises they couldn’t deliver. This guidance built the credibility of the campaign. Other success factors included:

  • Engaged and Visible Leadership
  • Clear Strategic Objectives
  • Thorough Planning
  • Unity of Effort 
  • Coordination, Coordination, Coordination 
  • Research and Measurement 
  • Passion

Originally this campaign was called “Wounded Warrior Care,” but to address the lifelong trauma associated with wartime injuries, the campaign was renamed “Warrior Care” and is on its way to becoming an enduring program rather than a short-lived campaign. For more information on Warrior Care and the media/activities being used to communicate the messages, please visit

By Lauren Vargas is a community manager at Radian6, based in Boston, Mass. She is a well-known public relations blogger and speaker who specializes in integrating social media tools into communications/marketing and business strategy. Vargas is a multi-faceted communications professional with experience in internal and external corporate communications, governmental affairs and community relations. Connect with Lauren on LinkedIn and Twitter.


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Lauren Vargas

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