Senior Noncommissioned Officers Discuss Way Ahead During Training Conference

By CSM Benjamin H. Scott, Jr., WTC Command Sergeant Major

CSM Benjamin H. Scott, Jr., the WTC Command Sergeant Major, speakingduring the training conference held in Orlando, FL.

CSM Benjamin H. Scott, Jr., the WTC Command Sergeant Major, spoke with several senior noncommissioned officers during the training conference held in Orlando, FL.

Last week, I had the opportunity to meet with Sergeants Major, First Sergeants, and Senior NCOs from several Warrior Transition Units (WTUs), Community Based Warrior Transition Units (CBWTUs), and the Army Wounded Warrior Program (AW2) during the Warrior Care and Transition Program (WCTP) Training Conference held in Orlando, FL.

During this Senior NCO meeting, I reinforced the idea of communication within our command and among each other resulting in a positive impact for the severely wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers and Veterans.

I also listened to the NCO leadership express concerns, frustrations, and issues that plague them at their locations. Their suggestions and concerns have not gone unheard. The purpose of the WCTP Training Conference was to bring these ideas to the table, because if you don’t ask, you won’t get. While the Warrior Transition Command has come a long way, we still have a way to go, and the feedback from the Sergeants Major and First Sergeants will greatly improve the path to excellence.

A key component to the way ahead is understanding and implementing the Comprehensive Transition Plan (CTP). The CTP will help strengthen the leadership in the WTUs, Military Treatment Facilities, and the Senior Commanders—allowing for the best care possible.

So many times, my boss, BG Darryl A. Williams has stated, “CTP is the core of what we do.”   And I completely agree. In order for the CTP to be successful, we have to support it, own it, and live it. We are not simply setting the standards, but creating a foundation that will help these Soldiers and Veterans succeed for the rest of their lives. I’m not saying we can resolve all issues immediately, but we can’t take the necessary steps to fix something if we don’t know there is a problem that needs fixing. And the CTP helps us get at this realization.

The bottom line is that the CTP is a big deal.

BG Williams and I are committed to making this program a success by ensuring all severely wounded, ill and injured Soldiers and Veterans have the necessary tools and equipment to succeed and excel throughout their lives.

We will continue to stress the importance of the CTP and its essential role in ensuring the Soldiers, Veterans and their Families have the ultimate level of care and support that is standardized throughout the Army.

Along with our commitment to these Soldiers, Veterans, and Families, my personal commitment—and one that I stressed to the Senior NCOs during our meeting—is enforce the standards with compassion.

Read more about the Comprehensive Transition Plan on the WTC website.

Speaking Up on Behavioral Health

By CSM Benjamin Scott, Jr., WTC Command Sergeant Major

CSM Benjamin Scott, Jr., WTC Command Sergeant Major

Behavioral health means a lot of things to many different people. I’ve seen how behavioral health care can improve the lives of Army wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers and Veterans. But others don’t see beyond the stigma around behavioral health or how behavioral health is vital to so many individuals in our Army communities. This only fuels the fire that prevents Soldiers and Veterans from getting the behavioral health care they need. It’s a perception that needs to change now.

How can those in the wounded, ill, and injured community change the stigmatized views on behavioral health? Encourage those around you to recognize and promote behavioral health the same way they promote physical health. This helps ensure that warriors and their Families focus not only on their physical health, but their behavioral health well-being too.

I came across a tagline from Mental Health America, an organization that promotes behavioral health awareness, that resonated with me, “Do More for 1 in 4.” More than one in four American adults lives with a diagnosable, treatable behavioral health condition. That percentage is even higher in the Army wounded, ill, and injured population. These are Soldiers and Veterans in installations, churches, synagogues, mosques, offices, and other workplaces across the country and world. More importantly, they are people that I care about. That’s why behavioral health awareness is so important to the Army and is a priority for Army warrior care.

When a Soldier loses an arm, leg, or watches a comrade be attacked or killed, there is a natural response or reaction to such a traumatic event. As Soldiers, we sometimes have broken bones that are re-set and cast, allowing us to continue with our lives in a meaningful productive way. The same is true for our behavioral health—with treatment, Soldiers and Veterans can get better. The wounded, ill, and injured community must try to see the common ground between physical and behavioral health.

Do not be silent about behavioral health issues anymore. Please set the proper example of empathy, sympathy, compassion, and respect. This example will help Soldiers and Veterans connect with Family, friends, and their communities. Help them seek the behavioral health care they need.

For more information on the Army behavioral health care, please visit the U.S. Army Behavioral Health website.

The Visible Wound and The Invisible Wound

By CSM Benjamin Scott, WTC Command Sergeant Major

WTC Command Sergeant Major Scott

CSM Benjamin Scott calls Soldiers, Veterans, and Families to educate themselves about invisible wounds.

It is critically important that we pay attention to all wounds, whether they are visible or not. As my friend, SGM Bob Gallagher once stated to me, “The guy or girl with the invisible wound is no less wounded than the human being with the visible wound.”

The person with the invisible injury is no less challenged than the one with the visible injury. People go out of their way to help the person with the visible wound because their wound is easily recognizable; the person with the invisible wound can often be overlooked.

People will hold elevator doors, open swinging doors, push a wheelchair, and do other acts of kindness for those with visible handicaps—all admirable and conscientious acts. However, at the same time, others will ask those with invisible injuries to speed up their rate of speech, or will finish their sentences, or will think of them as “stupid.” TBI, PTSD, or any other mental or unseen injury, demands us all to have patience and to have an understanding of all wounded warriors.

No less in need of our sensitivity are the caregivers. The caregivers carry a heavy load. The families are the ones who are with our wounded Soldiers at the most critical of times. They clothe, feed, bathe, and groom our wounded warriors—no matter the wound. They are the ones who have to explain to the children or other Family members why daddy or mommy is different now than before. Comfort and care are their specialties. Love and long-suffering are their shield. Our wounded warriors and caregivers are some of the most special people I have met.

How much better could we make each other‘s world if we were just more sensitive to the needs of all human beings?

In recognition of Traumatic Brain Injury Awareness Month, I ask you to educate yourself about TBI and other invisible wounds. The Real Warriors Campaign  offers a great deal of information about invisible injuries and I encourage you to take a look at their online resources.

Taking a few moments to get smart on invisible wounds will help you better support wounded warriors and their journey in transitioning to the next stage in their lives.

A Time to Give Back

WTC Command Sergeant Major Scott

CSM Benjamin Scott Jr., views the holiday season as a time for wounded warriors to reflect and give back to their loved ones.

By CSM Benjamin Scott, WTC Command Sergeant Major

I love this time of year. I always get excited about the chance to reflect, give, and plan.

No matter how busy we get, it’s important for us to take advantage of this time. Try to slow things down. Spend time with the ones you love and care about. Take time to talk with your spouse and kids about your goals and dreams for next year. Use this time to recharge your batteries–and not by the television set. Think about the changes or additions you want to better your life.

Change starts with you, but it continues with those around you. When I think about changes in my life, I think about how they will give back to my Family and loved ones. For instance, I plan to embrace technology in the next year. I found that texting is one way I can communicate a lot faster. I set a goal that by texting more often, I can communicate with my loved ones more often–a goal that will benefit me and my Family.

We need to look beyond ourselves. Take the story of two European cities for instance:

One day in Germany, many decades ago, a number of East Berliners decided they were going to send their West Berlin adversaries a little gift. They loaded a dump truck with garbage, broken bricks, stones, and anything else that had little or no value. The East Berliners drove the truck across the border, gained clearance, and dumped it on West Berlin.

Needless to say, the West Berliners were incensed. They were going to get even with them. Fortunately, a very wise man intervened and advised the West Berliners to take a very different course of action. Persuaded, the West Berliners responded by loading a dump truck with food and clothing, which was scarce in East Berlin, and medical supplies, which was even scarcer. They took the trucks across the border, carefully unloaded it all, and left a neat sign that read, “Each gives according to their ability to give.” Wow, how profound! 

We each have so much to give to those around us in both large and small ways. Take, for instance, another story that was shared with me many years ago:

Many years ago, a hospital volunteer got to know a little girl named Liz, who was suffering from a rare and serious disease. Her only chance for recovery was to receive a blood transfusion from her 5-year-old brother, who had miraculously survived the same disease. The brother had developed the antibodies necessary to combat the illness and therefore was his sister’s key to survival. The doctor explained the procedure to the little brother and asked him if he was willing to give his blood to his sister. The little brother hesitated for only a moment before taking a deep breath. He told the doctor, “Yes, I’ll do it if it will save her.”

As the transfusion began and progressed, the little brother lay in a bed next to his sister and smiled as he saw the color return to his sister’s cheek. Suddenly, the brother’s face grew pale and his smile faded. He looked up to the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, “Will I start to die right away?”

As he was very young, the brother had misunderstood the doctor. He thought that he was going to have to give all of his blood to his sister in order to save her.

This story demonstrated to me that gifts come in all shapes and sizes, but they all have an impact that can change the lives of those we love.

To all who have supported our wounded warriors, thank you for sharing one of the most precious gifts anyone can give–your time. Your efforts and determination have helped a community of wounded warriors meet their challenges face-to-face and overcome them.

To those who have served their country, thank you for your gift–your sacrifice. You are the ones who intrinsically understand the meaning of giving. You inspire your Families and communities, and I commend you for your hard work.

Stay safe and happy holidays.

Honoring Families and Caregivers During Warrior Care Month

By CSM Benjamin H. S. Scott, Jr., WTC Command Sergeant Major

WTC Command Sergeant Major Scott

CSM Benjamin Scott Jr. has personally witnessed the substantial positive impact Families and caregivers place on wounded warriors during their recovery and transition.

November is Warrior Care Month, and this year’s theme is “Army Strong–Family Strong: caring for wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers by supporting their Families and caregivers.” 

For Warriors in Transition (WTs), Families and Caregivers provide unparalleled support during a challenging time.  They offer a sense of normalcy, of the familiar.  They’re a shoulder to lean on and often the voice of reason when the WT needs to talk through difficult decisions. 

Before joining WTC, I served at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, where I worked with Soldiers who had just been medevaced from theater.  And I met the spouses, parents, and other caregivers who had just flown halfway around the world, often on a red-eye flight, fearing the worst, leaving their children with relatives or friends.  As I watched them, I saw the strength they mustered to encourage their Soldiers–a deep, enduring sense of fortitude that many of them didn’t know they had. 

At WTUs, Families and caregivers continue to play an integral role in each WT’s recovery.  You attend medical appointments, keep your WT on schedule, and participate in CTP scrimmages.  And you make incredible sacrifices–sometimes living away from the rest of your Families and putting your own careers on hold.  And for all you do to take care of your Soldier, you must take care of yourselves, too.  Please utilize the resources available to you, the counseling services, the administrative resources at the SFAC, and all of the other programs the Army has in place.  Speak up to your WT’s Squad Leader if there’s something you need.

I also want to speak to the children of WTs.  I know this can be scary and challenging, when your parent is hurt.  You’ve probably got a lot of questions and wonder when your life will get back to normal.  These reactions are completely understandable, and I hope you’ll ask your questions and tell your parents how you feel.  I also encourage you to embrace your Family’s “new normal” – life may be somewhat different than before your mom or dad was injured, but things will get better, and your Family will keep moving forward.

To all the Families and caregivers, I won’t say I know what you’re going through, because I don’t.  But I do know that you’re standing tall when you feel like your world is falling apart.  YOU are the unsung heroes of today’s conflicts.  The Army, the nation can never fully repay you for your sacrifices.  The Army understands that the strength of the Soldier starts with the Family, and that may never be more apparent than when the Soldier is injured.  During Warrior Care Month, and throughout the year, I commend you for all you do.

New WTC CSM Hits the Ground Running

By CSM Benjamin Scott, Warrior Transition Command CSM

First, I want to thank BG Cheek for providing me this outstanding opportunity to continue my service to Soldiers and Warrior Care as WTC’s Command Sergeant Major.  I am so excited to be here and involved in our important and essential mission of taking care of Soldiers. Our mission and what we do and how we do it is critical to Warriors in Transition. From the headquarters and onward to where the rubber meets the road, the Warrior Transition Units (WTU), we have an awesome responsibility. I believe we shoulder the Army’s most important obligation: warrior care.

During my first couple days at WTC, I’ve had the opportunity to spend some time getting to know the many dedicated Soldiers and Civilians in WTC’s northern Virginia headquarters. Of course, the headquarters is located in three locations but I won’t let that stop me from regularly reaching out and engaging with our fine folks.

And, I’ll be getting out to the field, too. As part of the warrior care family we all must engage with each other to develop ideas, discuss challenges, and chart our path forward. While in Germany, I made a personal commitment to meet and visit all of our Landstuhl clinics and their staff–no matter the distance–each quarter. Time zones and distances didn’t matter nor the mode of travel may it be trains, planes, or automobiles.

I plan to keep an aggressive schedule of reaching out to our folks. With that said, I’ll be spending time at Fort Benning next week on TDY with the Soldiers and staff of the WTU.  I’m looking forward to getting afield.

In my experience, you just can’t beat that personal ‘one on one’ time together. So, I’ll be in the field to see what folks far from the flagpole are saying and what’s on their minds. With that said, I ask you to please engage me if I don’t get to you first.

I’m a bridge builder and believe this trait helps form alliances between individuals, groups, and teams. Building bridges versus erecting fences can help us all move the ball forward with warrior care. Creative approaches can assist developing good policy, too.

In my numerous assignments, I’ve learned that caring for people is what matters.  It doesn’t matter what uniform you are wearing, a Navy doc, an Army nurse…the point is we care for people. Let’s never lose sight of why we put on the uniform (ACUs or suit/tie)–let’s keep warrior care at the top of our list of priorities.

You’ll probably hear me say that ‘excellence is expected and achievable but perfection is out of our hands’. We can always do better; achieve more as we excel to be the best we can be. So, don’t get hung up on perfection but seek excellence in all you do for our Soldiers.

As we provide for the thousands of wounded warriors that we are blessed to work with, remember that we must care for the caregiver. Burn out frequently occurs when dedicated folks pour their mental a physical energy into a cause. We must watch out for our buddies and fellow Soldiers and Civilians by taking as much care for each other as we do for the Soldiers we’ve dedicated our service to assist.

It really is about the team. The success we achieve is a shared success for everyone on the team. Together we are always stronger than any individual or single component. Conversely, we also share in setbacks with our teammates.  Let’s look toward areas where we can work together–pulling together in a cohesive manner better ensures our collective outcome.

Our goals and expectations should mirror each other’s. If we return the Soldiers we’re blessed to work with to the Army or to society as a productive member of those respective teams, then we have achieved much to fulfill our mission. We must continue to stay focused on the end game of assisting that Soldier as they transition to his/her unit or transition into the civilian ranks as a Veteran.

At the end of the day it is all about results. I’m a data guy and providing results is the standard of measuring our successes.

With 27+ years in our Army–serving at all levels of the medical spectrum–I get it. I easily relate to the folks providing the care and those Soldiers on the receiving end. Although it wasn’t initially diagnosed, I have PTSD and with assistance of family, friends, and professionals I’m managing and have adapted to my new normal. After returning from overseas duty, I had changed. I didn’t initially notice these changes but they were there.  I think it is important to recognize what is happening inside us–all of us–because it impacts us as caregivers and those receiving our care.

I am so anxious to get started.

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