Education and Employment Focus for 2012 Warrior Care Month

BG David J. Bishop, Commander, Warrior Transition Command  
Please join me in observing Warrior Care Month this November.  This month we will as an Army highlight how we continue to honor our sacred obligation to care for our most seriously wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers and their Families.  It is a time to reaffirm our commitment to quality health care, education and careers for these men and women. 

 The theme for this year’s joint observance is “Success through Transition – Education, Employment, Entrepreneurship.”

 Across the Army in November, Army leaders will host employment fairs, professional development sessions, open houses, media days, adaptive sports, reconditioning events, and celebrate the resiliency of our Soldiers and their Families.   Wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers from Warrior Transition Units (WTUs) will engage local community groups, sharing personal experiences from health care to training, education and employment.  

I’ve visited 13 WTUs since I came on board in July and have seen phenomenal leadership in the WTUs.  But I also recognize that serving as a cadre member in a WTU is a complex, demanding and challenging duty.  Just as we owe our Soldiers and Families the very best leadership and care they deserve, we owe our leaders the best training and development we can provide to help them succeed.  In November, leaders and cadre at Warrior Transition and Community-Based Transition Units across the Army will pause and conduct a back to basics WTU Stand Down which will focus on the compassionate care of Soldiers and Families as they transition through the WTU process. This training will not only broaden their interpersonal skill sets, but will also deepen their professional capabilities as leaders.

Additionally, several other Warrior Care month events will occur here in Washington, D.C. and locally in Army communities.  The Warrior Transition Command will launch an employment campaign on November 19 and host a joint-service sitting volleyball competition in the Pentagon, November 20.  I encourage you to check local web sites and installation and community newspapers to learn about upcoming events in your areas.  We’ve also posted many of the events on the WTC website at

Let’s also remember to acknowledge and be grateful to the men and women who don’t wear the military uniform, but who support and care for Soldiers and their Families – employers, educators, Veterans Administration, Congress, Veteran and military organizations, non-profit organizations, corporate America, local communities and individual citizens.  I recognize and am grateful that our Nation comes together in so many different ways to honor the sacrifices made by Soldiers and their Families and to contribute to warrior care.

Follow the month-long observance on Warrior Transition Command website and blog, and share your thoughts on Facebook and Twitter.

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Commander’s Drumbeat: Visits to Warrior Transition Units Inspiring

By BG David Bishop, Commander, Warrior Transition Command
After two months on the job as Commanding General of the Warrior Transition Command and Assistant Surgeon General for Warrior Care, I’m already deeply inspired by the indomitable spirit of our wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers recovering at our Warrior Transition Units (WTU), their Families and by the cadre who support them. As an armor officer I’ve seen firsthand the significance and results of your efforts and I recognize the dedication and talent of everyone who supports our WTU Soldiers and their Families – here in the National Capital Area and in the field.

Almost immediately after arriving here I began visiting WTUs – I’ve seen 12 in 60 days.  I’ve had the opportunity to talk with Senior Mission Commanders, Soldiers, Family members, cadre, and interdisciplinary team members.  I was able to examine a variety of issues with a primary focus on suicide prevention, sexual harassment and assault prevention, and the Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES), which directly impacts our WTU Soldiers.  I received invaluable input and feedback from leaders on supporting wounded, ill and injured Active Component and Reserve Component Soldiers and their Families. As a result of this great feedback, my staff is already working to address many of the challenges we encountered.

I toured barracks and saw for the first time virtual reality technology that helps our severely wounded adapt when they return home. At the U.S. Open in New York I met with wounded, ill and injured service members and U.S. Tennis Association representatives.  Physical fitness has always been important to me and this group helped me understand the special role adaptive reconditioning and sports can play in helping Soldiers heal. Our Warrior Games athlete, Army SPC Ryan McIntosh, was particularly impressive.  A positive, determined, and resilient below-the-knee amputee and Soldier, SPC McIntosh represented the Army well as a U.S. Open ball person and also during multiple national media interviews.  I expect to see him compete during the 2013 Warrior Games and very likely in the 2016 Paralympics.

As the WTC Commander and Assistant Surgeon General for Warrior Care, a significant part of my role is to educate, inform, and inspire the Warrior Care and Transition Program team.   Understand that you are all critical to ensuring that we honor our sacred obligation to continue to care for wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers as long as there is a need.

I am privileged to be a member of this team and look forward to serving you and keeping you up-to-date on what’s going on at WTC and throughout the Warrior Care and Transition Program.

Army Strong!

Commander’s Drumbeat: Warrior Transition Command Welcomes New Army Wounded Warrior Program (AW2) Director

By BG Darryl A. Williams, WTC Commander
Yesterday during a ceremony at Fort Belvoir, we passed the directorship of AW2 from one great hero and wounded Soldier, COL Greg Gadson, to COL Timothy Karcher, another wounded Soldier and great hero.

People say to me that it’s a bit unusual to have a ceremony for a command staff director. I agree, but I wanted to do this
to highlight the significance of WTC and its mission, and to also recognize the importance of the AW2 director and what it represents.  In fact, the Secretary of the Army described it best when he was recently quoted as saying, “caring for wounded warriors is a sacred obligation.”

BG Darryl Williams, Warrior Transition Command, Commanding General (center), COL Tim Karcher (left) and COL Greg Gadson (right),enthusiastically sing the 'Army Song' following an Army Wounded Warrior (AW2) program change of directorship ceremony held at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. on June 19.

A lot of people don’t realize that the Army continues its relationship with this population even after they transition from military service.  COL Gadson has been a leader of these efforts.  COL Gadson strengthened that relationship over the past two years as director of AW2.  During that time and under his leadership AW2 flourished and now supports more than 11,000 individuals,9,700 of which are Veterans, the others are assigned to one of the 29 Warrior Transition Units throughout
the United States and Europe.

He’s been an extraordinary AW2 director, father, husband, war hero, in-demand speaker, movie star, and not to mention an inspirational motivator for the New York Giants.  He’s done a superb job.

As a result of his willingness to lead from the front, not only has our leadership taken notice, but so have the media, Congress and public, private, and non-profit organizations.  In a very real way, our nation stepped forward and embraced Greg Gadson and the population he represents.

As he moves on to command Fort Belvoir, I’m very grateful that COL Karcher agreed to accept the challenge that comes along
with being the next AW2 director.  He has held many command and staff positions in the United States and in Europe.

COL Karcher is an impressive officer and Soldier who deployed to Iraq three times. During his second deployment, he was shot in his left arm and evacuated from theater, only to return to complete the deployment with his unit.  During his third deployment while serving in Sadr City, Iraq in 2009, his vehicle was struck by an explosively formed penetrator resulting in the amputation of both legs above the knee. Since then COL Karcher has been recovering at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas.

These two officers are very similar. Both are heroes and role models, both are clearly meant for great things, and both are
at the right place at the right time to represent and advocate for our country’s most severely wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers, Veterans, and their Families.

I feel very fortunate to have had COL Greg Gadson as the AW2 director for the last two years and wish him well in his next
assignment.  We are equally fortunate to have COL Timothy Karcher to pick up and carry the torch for the Army as we continue
to stand by this population of Soldiers, Veterans, and their Families.

I thank COL Gadson from the bottom of my heart for his courage and willingness to serve.  We are all better for knowing him.

As my own tenure as Commander of the Warrior Transition Command rapidly comes to a close,  I’m sorry that I won’t have the opportunity to work with COL Karcher to take AW2 and the Army’s Warrior Care and Transition Program (WTCP) to new
heights, but I believe in him and feel confident the program will flourish under his leadership.

Commander’s Drumbeat – A Call to Action

By BG Darryl A. Williams, WTC Commander
Today I challenged the 200 attendees at the Wounded Warrior Employment Conference to all hire five wounded, ill, or injured warriors and spouses during the next year.  I don’t care if they are Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, or Coast Guard.  I want everyone to hire someone and then tell me what they did to make it work.

Kicking off this conference, I reminded everyone that this is a joint effort across all of the four service wounded warrior programs, as well as several agencies throughout the federal government.  This is the second year we’ve hosted this conference, and this year we invited members of the private sector to join this important conversation.

The employment of wounded, ill, and injured Veterans and spouses is not just about the individual services, individual agencies or individual companies who work on this issue. It’s about our Veterans.  Our theme for the next two days is Educate – Empower – Employ.  These align directly to my top three priorities at the Warrior Transition Command: education, training and employment.

Employment is a major focus during recovery and transition or our wounded, ill and injured population, not just for the Army, but for all services.  While Soldiers are recovering at our 29 Warrior Transition Units, we focus on preparing them for the next stage of their careers.

That’s where the more than 200 military, federal, and private employers here today come in.  We are all here because we are committed to hiring these Veterans and their spouses.  We already know that it’s an ongoing commitment – we can’t just hire one Veteran and check the box.  We have to commit to hiring many.

I know it’s difficult.  The resumes employers get often don’t align exactly with the positions available. There’s no standard definition of a “wounded warrior”.  Hiring managers need more information about behavioral health injuries, like post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries.  That’s what we’re here to work on over the next two days – to share some best practices and educate each other on the ways to make each wounded warrior hire a success.

We talk a lot about transition. When servicemembers become wounded, ill, or injured, we don’t just focus on their physical recovery.  It’s important that they heal physically, but we recognize that life is about so much more than that.

Very early on in the treatment process, we start talking to the servicemembers about what’s next.  About half of the wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers in the Army do go back to duty, whether in their old job description or something new.  And 50% leave the military and move on to the civilian world—and the other services also have significant numbers leaving the force after their recovery.  It’s that group that we’re really focusing on at this conference.

And it’s that act of going back to the force or onto civilian life that we talk about with the term “transition.”

I want to talk a little about what you “get” when you hire a wounded warrior.  These are people with strong personal integrity – used to living by a creed.  During their military service, they’ve developed strong leadership qualities and respect for diversity. They learn new skills and concepts quickly. They work well by themselves but they also know how to perform with a team. They’ve got a wealth of experience with new technology and globalization. They show up on time, and they respect procedures, rules, and accountability. They’re productive in a fast-paced, high-stakes environment. And perhaps most importantly, they’re resilient.  They’ve overcome incredible, life-altering physical and behavioral injuries that most of us can’t even begin to comprehend.  And despite all of that, they’re looking forward to tomorrow – to finding a job that will help them build a better life and provide for themselves and their Families.

When they transition to the civilian workforce, they’re overcoming some key challenges.  They’re rediscovering self-reliance, embracing a new identity, and looking for meaningful activity.  It’s a big change to put away the uniform and put on civilian clothes in the morning and navigate an entirely new set of expectations.

Over the next two days, we will meet several Families in Transition who are employment ready.  These are some incredible, resilient people who have been through a lot, and they’re ready to move forward with their lives.  We’ve also held a series of career workshops for local wounded warriors and spouses who are actively searching for employment – again these are from all four services.  All of the wounded Veterans and spouses attending this last workshop will also be in the networking session tomorrow afternoon with all of the potential employers here.

We’ve got a lot going on over the next two days.  The bottom line is about taking action.

Tomorrow afternoon the leaders of the service wounded warrior programs and the federal agencies who organized this conference will have a ceremonial signing of the Wounded Warrior Employment Community Covenant. This is about establishing a common understanding and commitment to take action—making the changes necessary to make a real difference in increasing the hiring of wounded, ill, and injured Veterans and their spouses.

I’m proud of the people gathered here and their commitment to our men and women in uniform. What we are doing here this week is important.  It’s about affecting real wounded warriors and Families.

Commander’s Drum Beat: Updates in Warrior Care

By BG Darryl A. Williams, WTC Commander
As we approach the end of this year, I want to catch you all up on the last few weeks. We said good-bye to Army Surgeon General, LTG Erich Schoomaker, a great officer and leader, and a friend and mentor. We welcomed LTG Patricia Horoho as Army Surgeon General. An Army Nurse Corps officer, she is the first woman and first officer who is not a doctor to serve in this position.

I visited the Arkansas Community Based Warrior Transition Unit (CBWTU) where I met with BG William Johnson, Deputy TAG, and CSM Deborah Collins. It was good to sit down with them and talk National Guard issues. I had lunch with nurse case managers and cadre where it was obvious that everyone there cares deeply for our wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers. They are working hard on Release from Active Duty (REFRAD) issues and their dedication is paying off. I always like to spend some time with the WTU Soldiers. The Soldiers in Arkansas let me know how valuable the nurse case managers are at the CBWTU, in their words, “they are passionate and really care.” This extends to the cadre as well. They are an outstanding, enthusiastic group, who created a positive environment. I have to give a shout out to SSG Gary Hopmann; he gave me valuable feedback on the National Intrepid Center of Excellence. It’s an impressive place that provides state of the art assessments and treatments for our men and women in uniform who deal with psychological and brain injury issues.

At Fort Campbell, I had the privilege of participating in the WTB complex ribbon cutting ceremony. The new $31.6 million dollar complex includes rooms for 206 Soldiers, state of the art barracks complete with kitchens, handicap accessible bathrooms, televisions, an outdoor wheelchair obstacle course, and a healing garden. This is an example of the Army’s commitment to our wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers. I was able to meet with several of the Soldiers and their spouses. It’s clear they are going to enjoy the benefits of one-stop shopping and updated facilities. A special shout out goes to the hospital and WTU staff for their hard work and dedication.

Moving on to Fort Drum, I had a good visit with MG Mark Milley, Commander, Fort Drum and 10th Mountain Division. We talked about the WTU, MTF, our processes, and how we support these Soldiers and their Families. This trip was especially interesting on another front, I got to see firsthand the cadre and Physical Evaluation Board Liaison Officers (PEBLOs) remove their gloves, hammer out their differences, and come together on a couple of issues for the good of the Soldiers. That’s what they are about, taking care of their Soldiers. It was good again to hear kudos for nurse case managers, Lori Drake and Maura Jenson. The Soldiers told me, “they’ve got our backs”, and we all know there is no higher praise. A special shout out to WTU commander, LTC Celia Florcruz and Chaplain (CPT) Dave Christensen for their superb work and outstanding commitment to these Soldiers and their Families.

In Pinellas, Florida, I met with MG Robert Kasulke, Commanding General, US Army Reserve Medical Command, and his chief of staff, COL Daniel Ducker. I enjoyed being able to engage them personally on resources, the process of decreasing Medical Evaluation Board (MEB) times, and PEBLO delays. Kudos to SGT Sophia Lopez and SSG Maria Rosado. You all are doing a great job working PEBLO hurdles, VA exams, and disability ratings. I spent some time with our Soldiers at the Polytrauma Center at James A. Haley VA Hospital in Tampa, Florida. These Soldiers are strong and resilient, and have great attitudes. A shout out goes to Dr. Kevin White for all the good work he does in physical and spinal cord injury medicine.

I ended my Florida trip along with Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, GEN Peter Chiarelli, Commander, Third Infantry Division, MG Robert Abrams and about 100 friends and Family members of SGT Joel Tavera. It was a privilege to attend the ceremony where he received a new home from Building Homes for Heroes. This organization gets a huge shout out.

SGT Tavera was injured in Iraq more than three years ago. He is blind, with third-degree burns across 60 percent of his body. He’s undergone 73 surgeries since 2008. There is no greater example of courage or resilience. SGT Tavera is an inspiration. You can read about the ceremony at this link:

Most recently, I attended the Army-Navy Game in Washington, DC, with my family and about 20 WTC staff members. It was a great game, right up until the end.

This catches us up on my travels.

As we come to this year’s end, allow me to say to each of you, I am so proud of the work you have done this year and inspired by your compassion and selfless giving. Thank you for your dedication in caring for our wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers. May your holidays be joyful and safe, and may God bless each of you and your Families this season.

Commander’s Drumbeat: Military Athletes Compete at Warrior Care Month Sitting Volleyball Tournament

Soldiers playing sitting volleyball block at the net

SGT Juan Alcivar, left, and SSG Jessie White block at the net during a sitting volleyball match between the Army and a Pentagon team of Navy Reservists at the Pentagon Athletic Center on Nov. 22. WTC hosted the All-Service Sitting Volleyball Tournament as a part of Warrior Care Month. Photo Credit: James R. Wenzel

By BG Darryl A. Williams, WTC Commander

The energy was off the charts yesterday as the Pentagon Athletic Center filled with people cheering on our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines—Active Duty, Guard, and Reserve—during the Army Warrior Transition Command Warrior Care Month Sitting Volleyball Tournament.  

 Across the Army this month, units and installations have hosted events and engaged local communities and media to highlight warrior care. This tournament was the Army’s Warrior Care Month pinnacle event in the National Capital Region.  I wish all of you could have experienced the excitement of being among so many people joined together celebrating these wounded, ill and injured men and women—celebrating their service, their abilities, and their amazing spirits. Among the attendees were several senior military leaders including the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, Director of Army Staff and the Army Surgeon General. 

 Three of the four sitting volleyball teams were made up of wounded, ill, and injured service members—Army, Marines and a Joint team. The fourth team was a Pentagon team of Navy Reservists. I offer a huge shout out to the Pentagon team—they won the tournament with the Army taking second place. It wasn’t an easy win, these players gave their all.

 Army Sgt. Jonathan Duralde said it best, “The other teams were great; it was especially good to see the strategy of the Pentagon team. For us it was a competition and we were there to play regardless of the teams and regardless who won.”  

 Duralde, a below the knee amputee, wounded in Afghanistan in June 2010, recently reenlisted and is continuing on Active Duty. He is assigned to the Warrior Transition Battalion at Fort Belvoir and will soon start working in the Warrior Transition Command. 

 My biggest shout-out goes to all of the competitors. The tournament was about teamwork, cohesion and esprit d ‘corps. You all exemplify the best part of who we are.

 Not only did we see world class military athletes compete, we were privileged to have world class support and participation at this event. Well deserved shout-outs go to some special people:

  •  John Register, one of our tournament commentators. A Paralympics athlete and Army Veteran, he understands the healing power of sports and the significance it can play in the rehabilitation and recovery of our wounded, ill, and injured.
  •  John Kessel, Managing Director, Region Services, USA Volleyball. Kessel joined Register as a commentator and between the two of them kept everyone up to speed on each and every play with interviews about the power of adaptive sports and reconditioning activities between games.
  •  Kari Miller, a former Soldier who lost both her legs as the result of an auto accident involving a drunk driver, who went on to win a Paralympics silver medal in sitting volleyball in 2008. She taught the athletes the tips and tricks of sitting volleyball and refereed the tournament.
  •  Elliot Blake, Sitting Volleyball and Athlete Recruitment Coordinator, USA Volleyball. He also coached and refereed.
  •  Vic Breseford and his team from the Army Media & Visual Information Directorate. They did a super job with sound and getting us live coverage on DVIDS and the Pentagon Channel.
  •  Defense Media Activity (DMA) supported with visual and print staff.
  •  Candice Barlow-Jones. An invaluable member of the WTC team who lent her exceptional voice to our  national anthem, kicking off the event.

 Congratulations to all of the participants.

 I’d enjoy hearing about your Warrior Care Month plans and experiences. Please post your comments on this blog by clicking on the headline and scrolling to the bottom of the page to the comment box.

More information on events at WTUs around the country is available on the WTC website at

Commander’s Drumbeat: Warrior Care Month

BG Darryl A. WilliamsBy BG Darryl A. Williams, WTC Commander

In November we observe Warrior Care Month. The theme is “Healing the Mind, Body, and Spirit: Unlocking Unlimited Potential”.

Taking care of Soldiers is something we do every day. Observing Warrior Care Month allows us to highlight the significance of keeping Soldiers healthy and safe, and taking care of them when something doesn’t go right. We’re all in the business of caring for the Army’s wounded, ill and injured Soldiers—Active, Guard and Reserve.

I realize most people think of the combat injured when they hear the term ‘warrior care’. Clearly, that is warrior care and there is no higher calling than helping these men and women heal. Warrior care is also preventing illnesses and keeping Soldiers healthy and ready to deploy. Warrior care is arming Soldiers with tourniquets that they can use with only one hand. It’s having the best trained medics in the world standing shoulder to shoulder with our combat Soldiers.

Warrior care is an undertaking that encompasses a broad scope of efforts that extend way beyond the battlefield including managing pain with medication and with complementary medicine such as acupuncture, massage, and yoga. Warrior care means building resilience and ensuring our men and women in uniform are strong in mind, body and spirit. Warrior care is our best researchers looking at how we can advance medicine, improve protective gear and treat trauma and complex injuries. It’s having a battle buddy who looks after you and a leader you can count on.

During Warrior Care Month I ask that you also take time to recognize the men and women who don’t wear the uniform but who support and care for our Soldiers and their families. I’m talking about our partners at the Veterans Administration, Congress, Veterans organizations, non-profit organizations, corporate America, local communities and individual citizens. These are the people retired Admiral Michael Mullen, (former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) was referencing when he said there is a “Sea of Goodwill” in America.

I know a lot of you are planning events to honor the wounded, ill and injured men and women in uniform and to highlight what we do and what this Nation does each day in the spirit of Warrior Care. Like me, you’re likely looking forward to the events you’ll be attending. I’m excited about this month. We have a lot going on here in the National Capital Region. We will support the Navy in a wheelchair basketball expo and clinic in the Pentagon on November 18, and on November 22 the Warrior Transition Command is hosting a seated volleyball tournament. It’s going to be a great month. I’ll be traveling, visiting some WTUs and attending events that honor our Soldiers and people who work to keep them safe and healthy. It doesn’t get any better than this!

As I wrap things up, I want to emphasize my three priorities—education, training and employment. A WTU is a place for Soldiers to heal; it’s also a place for them to plan for their future; a place to develop a good, solid way ahead for them and for their family. When they leave a WTU I want them to have received the best medical care possible, have the education and training they need to succeed and have a job or career lined up.

We owe them our best, and Warrior Care Month is a time to commemorate their strength and resilience and the importance of what we do throughout the year.

I’d enjoy hearing about your Warrior Care Month plans and experiences. Please post your comments on this blog by clicking on the headline and scrolling to the bottom of the page to the comment box.

More information on events at WTUs around the country is available on the WTC website at

Commander’s Drumbeat—The Excitement of AUSA

By BG Darryl A. Williams, WTC Commander

It’s always great to see the Army Family come together.  Last week was a whirlwind of reconnections, fun experiences, and meaningful opportunities.  Sunday started at 0630 with the Army Ten-Miler.  I met with our team for photos, gave them a send-off and met our wounded warriors as they crossed the finish line.  One WTC employee told me that she was excited to run with the Missing Parts in Action team—current and past wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers who received treatment at Walter Reed—and especially enjoyed seeing them leave her in the dust.  Rehabilitation at its best!  The Warrior Transition Command and the Missing Parts teams were both impressive.

BG Darryl Williams, Warrior Transition Command Commander, congratulates world class runners Tesfaqe Sendekee, first overall male finisher, and Tezata Dengera, first overall female finisher at the 2011 Army Ten Miler (ATM) footrace. Both athletes competed for the 'I Run for God' (IR4G) team coached by LTC (Ret.) Sue Bozgoz. Each runner as well as additional IR4G runners donated their ATM trophies to WTC's Army wounded warriors.

I have to give a shout-out to everyone who participated but especially the International Running Team—I Run for God or IR4G.  These men and women ran for wounded warriors and took first place overall, first place in the overall male category, and first, second and third places overall in the female categories.  They very generously presented us their trophies on Thursday.

If you did not participate in the Army Ten-Miler, start making plans now for next year. It is a super event.  I’m already talking to my team about all the ways we can ramp up our presence and get more folks involved. I ran into people I hadn’t seen in years, ate great food, and saw some excellent exhibits.  I even heard some good music and saw a martial arts expo.  It was an all-around festive time with Families, friends, and colleagues—two of my kids were with me and even they had a ball.

You all know that I’m adamant about making it clear that we represent and work for Active Duty, Guard and Reserve.  To build on that—we were fortunate to share a Hooah Tent with Community-Based Warrior Transition Unit (CBWTU) Illinois.  Kudos to all the runners and the volunteers who showed up to share education and information products, and talk to visitors about WTC and what we do every day to support wounded, ill and injured warriors.  They also dished up a load of award-winning chili for runners and spectators—that was a big draw at our tent.

I had such a great time I didn’t think the week could get any better.  Then on Monday I had the privilege of listening to the Secretary of the Army.  While the Secretary did admit budget cuts sometimes keep him up at night, he also told us that unlike in the past, we saw this downturn coming and are better positioned than at any time in our nation’s history to deal with the fiscal realities, and do it in a way that truly makes sense.  He reinforced that part of dealing with these realities is to cut end-strength and that our Army will look different than it does now.  He emphasized that no conflict is ever won without boots on the ground and was confident the Army can handle the challenge of these pending reductions.

He addressed who we are and what we do when he said, “We’re still at war. We work diligently every day to try to make certain they get what they need, to get it when they need it, that we give them all the support they require to build resilience and all the care that’s necessary when they come home.”

For you history buffs, he was right on the money when he referenced  the book “This Kind of War,” and TR Fehrenbach’s passage, “You may fly over land forever, you may bomb it, atomize it, pulverize it, and wipe it clean of life. But if you desire to defend it, protect it and keep it for civilization, you must do this on the ground the way the Roman legions did, by putting your young men into the mud.”  He went on to acknowledge that “Fehrenbach’s observations are as relevant today as they ever were, because while we shocked, while we awed, at the end of the day, we did the most important thing to gain and ensure victory, we marched. And there is no getting around the fact that it is the Army that has been saddled with much of the burden these past years, providing between fifty to seventy percent of our deployable forces. And while I’m loathe to view our men and women in uniform as mere budgetary statistics, I think it’s important to remind people that while the United States Army represents half of our nation’s entire force, we consume only about a quarter to 30 percent of the entire defense budget.”

Later on Monday, I was on a panel with the Army Surgeon General, Deputy Surgeon General, and the FORSCOM Surgeon, Supporting the Deployment of Healthy, Resilient and Fit Soldiers…Soldier Medical Readiness.   There was significant focus on how we identify and deal with non-medically ready Soldiers, and fitness and nutrition.  It felt good to say that we return about 50 percent of our Warrior Transition Unit (WTU) Soldiers to duty and support all our wounded, ill and injured with a personalized Comprehensive Transition Plan  that supports their goals to return to duty or transition out of military service.

Reflecting on the remarks by the Secretary and the Surgeon General on the future and resilience of our Army, I was reminded of who we are and how young we are.  This command is only about two years old and we’ve only had WTUs since 2007.  As the Surgeon General says, we are a learning organization and continuously changing.  Our history is already rich with success and change.  We went from medical hold companies to WTUs; from having no plan to the Army Medical Action Plan; from rehabilitation and therapy to Warrior Games.  Very soon I’ll be sending out the new Comprehensive Transition Plan guidance for coordination and I’ll have new command information product—a newsletter, Warrior Care and Transition Program Update—coming your way soon.

Before I sign off, remember that in November we will celebrate Warrior Care Month across the Army.  I want you all to be fully engaged as this is the most important monthly observance we have.  The Warrior Care Month joint-service theme is “Healing the Mind, Body, and Spirit: Unlocking Unlimited Potential.”  You all know better than anybody what this means and that these men and women embody strength and resilience.  They are the products of prevention and research that resulted in more survivors of combat injures than ever before.  My three priorities for these men and women are education, training, and careers.  Let’s show the world who we are next month and what we do every day to support those who have given so much.  It’s a time to highlight our wounded, ill and injured—Active, Guard and Reserve, and the people who support them.

I’d enjoy hearing about your Army Ten-Miler, AUSA experience and plans for Warrior Care Month.  What stood out, and what we can do better on next year.  Please post your comments on this blog by clicking on the headline and scrolling to the bottom of the page to the comment box.

In closing, I would recommend you check out the remarks of the Secretary and Chief of Staff of the Army during the annual AUSA meeting.

Commander’s Drumbeat: Fort Stewart–Success Built on Teamwork

BG Darryl A. WilliamsBy BG Darryl A. Williams, WTC Commander

I recently was able to get down to Fort Stewart to visit with the leaders and Soldiers in the Warrior Transition Unit (WTU)—what a great visit and what a beautiful Army installation.   There are 234 Soldiers there who are healing and mapping out plans for their future under the leadership of LTC Bill Reitemeyer and CSM Steven Owens.  These are two impressive leaders who are in the National Guard.  They are on the ground, taking care of our wounded, ill and injured, and representing our 563 cadre and the National Guard superbly.  They are an extraordinary team, and I’m glad to have the opportunity to highlight them and their successes—a big salute to my National Guard brethren.

I can’t emphasize enough the difference it makes when WTU leaders are supported by the medical treatment facility and senior mission leaders.  The benefits are tangible and nowhere are they more apparent in our Army than at the Fort Stewart Warrior Transition Battalion (WTB).   Leaders at all levels work together to ensure they adhere to the WTU entrance criteria, that the Comprehensive Transition Plan (CTP) is adhered to, and that the medical management center are up and running efficiently to manage the medically not ready population that doesn’t need to be assigned to a WTU.  Fort Stewart is actually the model for medical management centers.  They have been in place now for about 18 months and the folks there are on point with this process.

My favorite part of these visits is meeting and talking with the cadre and Soldiers in the unit.  It was apparent that these folks are familiar with the battlefield.  About 10% of the Soldiers are combat wounded and about one third of the cadre was injured in combat.  They have a unique situation there, I’m not sure I know of any other cadre with these levels of combat injured.  Meeting with them and hearing what they had to say reinforced to me that we can have success when leaders lead and work together to execute processes in synchronization.  I’m talking about teamwork.

This trip was unique in more than one way.  I particularly enjoyed meeting with Soldiers and their therapy dogs.  For those of you who haven’t seen this in action—it’s an unbelievable combination—Soldiers and their dogs.  You all know—probably a lot better than I do—the bond that develops, the positive impact on mental and physical healing, and just overall well-being that can occur when we put the two of them together.  When you get a few minutes, I encourage all of you to read “Dogs and War” in the October issue of Men’s Health, It highlights the important work done by some of our four-legged therapists and the Soldiers they serve.

Well-deserved shout-outs go to PAWS4Vets, some special warriors and their service dogs, and WTU staff:

  • SFC Joshua Campbell’s battle buddy is Jackie and SFC Ed Boleyn’s battle buddy is Paisley.  Guys, you are my heroes.
  • Debra Dehart, Head Occupational Therapist, also gets a big hooah and shout out.  This lady is all about the Soldiers at the WTU and making things better and easier for them.  She basically grew her own military advanced training center (MATC) and is working on behavioral health care through a program that incorporates classical music and has an unbelievable efficacy rate.  Our wounded, ill and injured are fortunate to have Ms. Dehart on their team.
  • The last shout-out goes to CPT Bryan Stewart, Headquarters and Headquarters Company (HHC), who has oversight of the Tampa mission.  It’s a special mission set that deals largely with spinal cord injuries.  I met him this summer when some members of my team and I visited wounded warriors at the James A. Haley VA Hospital in Tampa where they specialize in treating spinal cord injuries and severe brain injuries.  He did a great job of hosting me during both visits.  I know they are looking at potentially expanding the cadre in Tampa.  The WTU has submitted a proposal for consideration, and we’re considering putting a company commander in Tampa.

To the leadership and cadre at the WTU, keep up the good work.  You are making a huge difference in the lives of the Soldiers you serve through your skills, dedication, command climate and warrior ethos. This was evident all during the visit, but was highlighted when my command sergeant major CSM Benjamin Scott, randomly spoke to a wounded warrior who was not part of the formal schedule who said, “I love my command.”

This is our testament—what we all strive for.  I know I speak for all of you when I say that our goal each morning as we start our day is to do the right thing by every Soldier who is wounded, ill or injured, and that it is a privilege to serve these very special men and women.

In wrapping things up, I want to remind you that we don’t have to do everything on our own.  There is a sea of goodwill at the local, regional and national levels that include the Army Homefront Fund (AHF) and hundreds of other organizations who want to give back to our men and women in uniform.  You can find out more by visiting the Warrior Transition Command web site resource section,

Note: The appearance of external hyperlinks and/or recognition of non-federal entities does not constitute endorsement by the United States Department of Defense, the United States Army, the United State Medical Command, or the Army Warrior Transition Command of the linked web sites, or the information, products or services contained therein.

Commander’s Drumbeat: One More Round

By BG Darryl A. Williams, WTC Commander

Herschel Walker visits with Soldiers

Herschel Walker visits with military personnel at the WCTP Training Conference in Orlando.

We’ve worked hard this week at the Warrior Care and Transition Program (WCTP) Training Conference, and folks were getting tired. We needed a little something, a little boost. Boy did we get it – in the form of Herschel Walker. This guy is awesome. He has a message I wish every Soldier and Family member could hear: “We can go one more round.” Most of you probably know that he is a Heisman Trophy winner, played for the New Jersey Generals, Dallas Cowboys, Minnesota Vikings, and the Philadelphia Eagles. What you may not know is that he suffered from dissociative identity disorder, dealt with extreme anger, and threatened others with physical violence of which he had no memory. He sought psychotherapy treatment and made his illness public to encourage others to seek help.

His story is peppered with references to his strong Christian faith and with sports anecdotes. With each demon he had to confront, he told himself, “I can go one more round.” One thing that struck a chord with the team at this conference was how he addressed stigma. In the Army, we talk a lot about stigma—the stigma associated with seeking behavioral health care. It’s something we want to wipe out, something we want to overcome. Herschel’s message is that stigma doesn’t really exist when you know who you are and what you have to do. It is something used to make others feel less than who they are. When you know who you are and what to do, stigma doesn’t matter.

He also emphasized the importance of support networks and admitted that some people bailed on him when he went public. It didn’t matter, the people supporting him were the ones he needed. Getting better, getting free from his illness was what was important. He credits his ex-wife and pastor for getting him through the dark days. Herschel said there are times when you don’t think you can get up, times when you don’t think you can make it, and that’s when you need someone there to encourage you—to tell you that you can make it.

To me, his most compelling message is that maybe more important than telling people to seek help, is if you see a friend or family member struggling—go to them. Go to them because when they get to that really low point, they can’t see anything else. Help that friend or family member go one more round.

Herschel is also vocal about the importance of physical and mental fitness and how they go together. He understands it is important mentally to be able to know and understand your surroundings and that if you are physically fit you have the energy to adapt.

He shared that he considered a military career before he was recruited by Coach Vince Dooley at the University of Georgia. Herschel proudly admits he feels a connection with servicemembers because we have the ability to overcome and adapt in a lot of different situations. He compared the football team to the military saying that teamwork is how things get done.

Walker, who in his life has felt like he was not going to make it, wants Soldiers to know that they will make it. That there is no such thing as I can’t ; no such thing as I will give up; no such thing as I will quit. We can go one more round.

It’s clear my job as a senior leader is to create conditions where all of our Soldiers and their Families feel supported and part of a team—a team that can go one more round.


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