By Emily D. Anderson, WTC Stratcom
SFC Clem Cowan did not realize when he tore his Achilles during a physical fitness training session March 27, 2012 that it would lead to being diagnosed with other medical issues while assigned to the Warrior Transition Unit (WTU), Fort Polk, Louisiana.
“When I went to start the retirement process, I was told that I would have to postpone because I was going to a WTU,” said Cowan. “I didn’t think I was in that bad of shape just dealing with the normal wear and tear on the body.”
I’ve been dealing with pain for the past six years, but I thought it was the normal wear and tear on the body,” he said. “Once you’ve been in the military four or five years, or especially 15 years or more after carrying ruck sacks, road marches, constant physical fitness, it takes a toll on your body.”
The idea of being in a WTU was not Cowan’s first choice because he had a few misconceptions about the WTU being only for Soldiers being injured while deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan. He has since changed this mindset, stating “being in a WTU has been thumbs up.”
“The WTU is for wounded, ill, or injured Soldiers,” Cowan said. “In the past that was something that I never wanted to hear, but I’ve served, gave my country 100 percent, and now I’m an injured Soldier trying to take care of my medical issues.”
“This has been an experience I wasn’t expecting,” he added. “I thought I would go in, do a little therapy and that’ll be it, but it’s so much more.”
Each Soldier in a WTU is assigned a Triad of Care comprised of a squad leader, nurse case manager (NCM), and primary care manager. These professionals work together to coordinate all aspects of the Soldier’s medical and non-medical care.
“My Triad of Care, my NCM, and my squad leader, really take care of Soldiers, they really listen and are very helpful,” Cowan said “They are definitely taking care of Soldiers.”
“I’ve been treated with respect; I wasn’t rushed; and they attended to each issue,” he said. He continues to describe his experience as being “a real blessing.”
Cowan is currently in the rehabilitation phase in his Comprehensive Transition Plan (CTP). The CTP is a seven-part process for every Soldier in a WTU that includes an individual plan that the Soldier creates for him or herself with support of the WTU cadre.
“My physical evaluation board (PEB) has found me physically unfit and I’m just waiting on my disability ratings from VA,” Cowan said. “I’ve been in 23 years and I’m ready to retire and spend time fishing with the grandkids.”