Study Shows “The Tie Goes to the Vet” during Hiring Process for Leadership and Teamwork Skills

By Amanda Koons, WTC Stratcom
Hiring Veterans makes sense.  A recent study published recently by the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) makes a compelling argument to employers that hiring Veterans is good for business, bottom line.

CNAS used in-depth interviews with 87 leaders of companies to determine the primary reasons business leaders listed for hiring Veterans: their leadership and teamwork skills.  Veterans have typically led colleagues, accepted directions from others, and operated as part of a team.  One employer said, “We look for people with leadership skills. If someone can lead a team of Soldiers around the world, they can lead our large stores.”  All company leaders interviewed said they seek to hire the most qualified candidate but, as one participant said, “The tie goes to the Vet.”

Among the other reasons business leaders in the study listed for hiring Veterans are:

  • Character:  Veterans are perceived by employers as being trustworthy, dependable, and having a strong work ethic.
  • Structure and discipline: Companies, especially those that emphasize health and safety, appreciate Veterans’ experience following established procedures.
  • Expertise:  Companies value Veterans’ skills, job-specific experiences, and understanding of the military community.
  • Dynamic environment: Veterans are used to performing and making decisions in dynamic and rapidly changing circumstances.
  • Resilience:  Veterans are accustomed to working in difficult environments, traveling, and relocating.

Employers actively recruit Veterans through military career fairs, partnerships, employment websites, web portals, headhunters, and employee referrals. WTC offers additional recommendations for wounded, ill, or injured Soldiers as they focus on preparing for the next step in their careers, whether they’re returning to the force or transitioning to civilian life.  Suggestions and resources for career planning for active duty Soldiers, Veterans, spouses, and employers are included on the Careers and Employment section of the WTC website.

Commander’s Drumbeat: Taking care of wounded, ill, and injured soldiers – a sacred obligation

BG Darryl A. Williams

After serving as the commanding general of the Warrior Transition Command (WTC) since 2010 I’m packing my ruck sack and moving to Korea where I will be the 2nd Infantry Division’s Assistant Division Commander – responsible for logistics and support. As I leave you all I feel trained, ready and uniquely qualified to serve with the 2d infantry Division.  It’s been an honor and privilege to serve as the Assistant Surgeon General for Warrior Care and Transition, and as Commander, Warrior Transition Command.  It has been rewarding on so many levels and that makes leaving here bittersweet.

Although I’ll soon be half a world away in Korea, I’ll never really be far.  After all, I’m a WTC alumni now and my attention will always be on our wounded, ill and injured soldiers. I consider taking care of this population a sacred obligation.  I believe that how we support these men and women says everything about who we are.  It defines our future.

As I pen my last WTC Commander’s Drumbeat, I’m reminded that I’ve deployed and been in battle. I’ve heard my soldiers cry ‘medic’ and I’ve watched those medics rush to their side, putting themselves in harm’s way.  This command, the Warrior Transition Command – is a testament to Army medicine. The people in Army medicine are committed and dedicated and professional.  They do a lot of heavy lifting without any fanfare.

Today I passed Warrior Transition leadership to Brig. Gen. David J. Bishop. Brig. Gen. Bishop will be only the third commander of Warrior Transition Command.  I know he is looking forward to being here and to serving this very special population.  I came here as a colonel and followed great general officers who shaped and developed this command. Maj. Gen. Mike Tucker and Maj. Gen. Gary Cheek came before me and provided all the elements that helped me succeed.  I hope Brig. Gen. Bishop will feel he is set up for success as well.

Serving and taking care of soldiers is what I want to do, and during my past two years as WTC commander, I’ve been able to assist soldiers and their families at the strategic, operational and tactical levels – in ways I never knew possible. I found out quickly the wounded, ill and injured soldiers assigned to the Warrior Transition Units (WTU) have complex problems that require complex solution sets.

It’s been an incredibly satisfying job.   No day is the same and no job is the same at the WTC.  We are constantly facing challenges and unique cases.  During my tenure here the staff has been extraordinary.  Since 2009 we have worked together to develop Army guidance and policy for 29 WTUs and nine Community Based Warrior Transition Units (CBWTU). Collectively, they provide care for more than 9,500 wounded, ill and injured soldiers and their families.  We also have oversight of the Army Wounded Warrior Program (AW2). This is a truly special program.  AW2 supports and advocates for the most severely wounded, ill and injured soldiers and veterans with a network of more than 200 AW2 advocates and additional support staff located at WTUs, Military Treatment Facilities, VA Polytrauma Centers, and other VA facilities.

Some of you may be surprised to know that since 2007, Army medicine has returned almost 23,000 soldiers back to the Army and back to the fight. Ladies and gentlemen — that is more than two Army divisions. We also have transitioned about 22,000 to veteran status. We’re a lean organization and we’re good and getting better every day.

There have been numerous accomplishments under my watch and I can’t take credit.  I’ve had support for much of the heavy lifting from a dynamic team of professionals at WTC headquarters and at the WTUs and CBWTUs. From the top down to that essential young noncommissioned officer squad leader responsible for 10 soldiers and family members, each person is an integral ingredient to the success of WTC.

As WTC commander, it has been a privilege to visit the Army’s WTUs and CBWTUs.  It has been a blessing to be in a position to reach out soldiers and families at Military Treatment Facilities, VA Polytrauma Centers and other VA facilities across the country.

I’m grateful to Army leadership for empowering me to solve problems and find solutions. I had no idea how important that would be before I came here.  It’s important for that WTU soldier and his family to know that he’s going to be all right.  It’s important for them to know we have their back.  WTC is a very young and nascent command.  I believe we have a moral imperative to keep the Warrior Transition Command alive.

Clearly this is the best team I’ve ever been a part of.  We’ve got Army Soldiers, Department of the Army civilians and contractors all pulling together for our wounded, ill and injured soldiers, veterans and families.  I’m the guy out front, but this is a total team effort.  It has been a privilege of serve in the Army for almost 30 years and each assignment has always been fulfilling – none more than this.

Thank you – each of you – for your professional and personal support.

It is my honor to serve.  God bless you.

Proud of My Army

BG Gen Darryl Williams, Commanding General, Warrior Transition Command, shares a light moment with outgoing AW2 Director COL Greg Gadson, who turned over command to COL Timothy Karcher on June 19, 2012. Both Soldiers lost both legs above the knee during deployment to Iraq and remained in the Army through the Continuation on Active Duty (COAD) program.

By Emily Oehler, WTC Stratcom
I wrestled with how to open this blog. It kept coming out a bit like an odd joke – what do you get with one star, two birds, and four prosthetics? A change of command. But, it’s no joke; it was the inspiring transition of leadership at the Army Wounded Warrior Program (AW2) yesterday. BG Darryl Williams, Commanding General of the Warrior Transition Command (WTC), oversaw the outgoing AW2 Director COL Greg Gadson and incoming Director COL Tim Karcher—both double above the knee amputees due to combat in Iraq. Even COL Greg Gadson joked that it’s a sad state when the Army can’t find two colonels with both their legs.

For me the proudest moments were
•Getting goose bumps as Candice Barlow Jones sang the national anthem acapella  in her soulful, melodic voice to open the ceremony. Her interpretation came with an insider’s understanding of combat and brought that song to life in a new way for me.
•Looking at BG Williams, flanked on both sides by strong proven leaders who are stepping forward to continue to serve, even though they were stepping on titanium legs. Gadson stepping forward to lead as the incoming Fort Belvoir Garrison Commander, and Karcher to lead AW2—the program which supports the Army’s most severely wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers, Veterans, and Families.
•Closing with Veterans, wounded, Soldiers, past AW2 directors, civilians, andcontractors alike united in the Army song—one team with one mission.

I was proud to be a part of such a landmark event and sincerely proud of my Army. I’m proud of an organization that stands by those who are injured in the line of duty, and then supports their long-term career with the option to continue to serve. As BG Williams stated, these two men were leaders before their injuries, and they still are—their careers were just interrupted while they recovered.

Check out the WUSA TV coverage of the event here.

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.

Fourteen Organizations Join AW2 Community Support Network

By SSG Emily Anderson, WTC Stratcom

Join me in welcoming the newest organizations in the AW2 Community Support Network. These organizations offer resources and help better the lives of AW2 Soldiers, Veterans, and their Families. Click on the links below to get to know them.

The AW2 Community Support Network was created based on direct requests from severely wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers, Veterans, and Families. Wounded Soldiers stated that connection with their local community and community leaders was essential for their success and reintegration. For more information, please visit the AW2 Community Support Network webpage.

Do you know of a caring organization that wants to assist wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers, Veterans, and their Families? If so, please email the AW2 Community Support Network at the below email address.  We welcome your recommendations and referrals.

Send organization referrals to usarmy.pentagon.medcomwtc.mbx.aw2communitysupportnetwork@mail.mil.

Commander’s Drumbeat: What a Week for Army at Warrior Games

By BG Darryl A. Williams, WTC Commander
Wow.  I have never been more proud to be a Soldier in the United States Army than I am after watching the Army compete this week.  The Army Warrior Games team has turned in performances that make all of us proud to wear the uniform, and today was no exception.

I’ve had a blast all week and have made it a point to get to every event, and I want you to understand just how much excitement we’ve all experienced:

  • Monday: At the Opening Ceremony, the 220 athletes from all the services and the British armed forces marched across the Olympic Training Center with pride.  Their heads were up, shoulders back, all proud to wear the colors of their service branch.  Proud of what they’ve given our country, and what they’ve accomplished personally since they became wounded, ill, and injured.  Mrs. Michelle Obama and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, GEN Martin E. Dempsey, helped America see how important this event is, and how much wounded, ill, and injured warriors can accomplish.  AW2 Veteran Melissa Stockwell, who competed for the United States in the 2008 Paralympics in Beijing, lit the torch and reminded all the athletes competing–and all wounded, ill, and injured servicemembers throughout the country–how much is still possible even after injury.  GEN Lloyd J. Austin III, Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, and LTG Patricia Horoho, Army Surgeon General, both met with the Army team and attended the opening reception.
  • Tuesday: The Army women swept the podium at cycling and CPT Bill Longwell brought home gold for the men.  Seeing the elation on CPT Longwell’s face when he crossed the finish line and the Army spirit in Veterans Tanya Anderson, Margaux Vair, and 1LT Lacey Hamilton posing with their medals, I knew we were in for a great week.  And we made a strong start in sitting volleyball.  The Honorable John McHugh, Secretary of the Army, kicked off the cycling competition and presented medals to the cycling winners.
  • Wednesday: Army swept the silvers in all four archery categories.  SGT Fred Prince and Veteran Kinga Kiss-Johnson took home individual silvers, and we won the “team” silvers in both the recurve and compound categories.  And if that wasn’t enough, Coach Steve Coleman had promised the team that if they did well, they could shave his very bushy beard and hair.  He looks 20 years younger without it.  And later that night, Army was on top of our game in sitting volleyball and wheelchair basketball.  You should hear the crowd in the gym for both these sports – you can barely hear yourself think.  Between the cowbells and airhorns and cheering fans, the athletes from all the services know how much they’re supported.  And there was more – the PA system couldn’t get the British national anthem to play before their exhibition sitting volleyball game, so the team belted the lyrics with incredible sense of country.SMA Raymond F. Chandler III, Sergeant Major of the Army, visited with the Army team and cheered them on throughout Wednesday and Thursday.
  • Thursday: We brought home three medals in shooting: SGT Fred Prince and Veterans Justin Miller and Ben Trescott.  The Army Marksmanship Unit came out to help our athletes train, and they were instrumental in helping the Soldiers prepare.  Thursday evening, Army qualified for the gold medal game in both sitting volleyball and wheelchair basketball.  We won gold in wheelchair basketball last year and silver in sitting volleyball, and members of both teams told me that they were hungry to take home gold.
  • Friday: What an exciting day.  At the track, we sang the Army song over and over, as so many of our athletes won gold.  In his third Warrior Games appearance, Robbie Gaupp brought home two gold—in the 100m and 200m, and now he’s talking about qualifying for the Paralympic Games in London.  Kinga Kiss-Johnson, Anthony Pone, Monica Southall, and Juan Soto all won gold in different categories of shot put, and they all made it look easy.  Then Friday night, we dominated the Marines in sitting basketball and wheelchair basketball, bringing home gold in both team sports.  I could barely sit down during either game, I was cheering so hard and so excited for our teams.  GEN Raymond T. Odierno, Chief of Staff of the Army, was out at the track cheering on Army athletes and presented track and field medals.
  • Saturday: Army wrapped up the week with a strong showing in swimming.  There were some incredible performances from all the services.  WTC’s own LTC Danny Dudek, author of the new Comprehensive Transition Plan (CTP) policy and procedures, won gold in his race by more than a minute.

All in all, Army took home 62 medals: 18 gold, 19 silver, and 25 bronze.  Congratulations to all of the Army athletes on turning in a series of outstanding performances, and to all of the competitors here this week from all branches, including the members of the British armed forces who competed.

And to all wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers and Veterans who want to compete at the 2013 Warrior Games, we’ll let you know in the next few months about the training clinics and selection process.  I encourage you to continue to incorporate adaptive sports and reconditioning into your every day recovery and ongoing physical fitness routines, and I look forward to seeing the Army deliver another outstanding performance next year.

Using Mental Skills in Shooting Competition

By Lindsay Holtz, Guest Blogger and Performance Enhancement Specialist with the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness-Performance and Resilience Enhancement Program (CSF-PREP)

Army Veteran Justin Miller, a Galion, Ohio native, pauses before taking a final shot during the 2012 Warrior Games pistol shooting competition held at the U.S. Olympic Training Center, Colorado Springs, Colorado, May 3. Miller earned a bronze medal during the final pistol competition. (U.S. Army Photo by SSG Emily Anderson, WTC)

In competitive shooting, every step of one’s routine matters. Army Veteran Justin Miller spent the last few months working on the components of competitive shooting to create a consistent and accurate routine. Miller gave up all sport aspirations due to his injuries, but then he learned about the Warrior Games.

“I hadn’t heard anything about that before. And as they were talking I was thinking about my experience in shooting, swimming, and why not cycling,” Miller said. “It provided a lot of motivation.”

Shortly thereafter, Miller found himself on his way to attend the first WTC shooting clinic. It was at this first clinic I met Miller. I am a Performance Enhancement Specialist (PES) with the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness-Performance and Resilience Enhancement Program (CSF-PREP).

I introduced mental skills training with these athletes from day one. The training focused on creating routines and developing a consistent shot plan, including both physical and mental strategies. According to  SFC Janet Sokolowski, one of the team’s coaches from the Army Marksmanship Unit, “shooting is 90 percent mental. Once you get the fundamentals, it all becomes mental.”

Miller took this to heart and found that deliberately crafting and writing down his routine provided him with a personal point of reference to keep him consistent. In addition, Miller consistently set daily goals which provided him with something to think about while shooting during each practice.

I also worked with Miller on imagery techniques combined with biofeedback training. By using imagery, Miller is able to conduct a match in his head, and he found during practices that his shot groups have gotten closer. Miller is also able to think through and bring in all aspects of shooting without physically holding his weapon. The mental skills Miller incorporated in shooting have allowed him to be more automatic while in the midst of shooting.

While Miller has implemented a number of mental skills into his work in shooting, he has also found them to be valuable in his everyday life.

“One day, shortly after the shooting clinic in January, I was on my way to an appointment. My anxiety was spiking, and I began to think about what we discussed at the clinic,” Miller said. “I was able to use the skill of tactical breathing and it helped calm me down and gain greater control.”

Miller said at that moment there was a “pivotal change” for him. Using mental skills helped him get to a point that he was able to get out of the barracks and enjoy doing things again.

He has shown the importance of shooting through his dedication and passion both between and during practice. For him, shooting allows him to find enjoyment in a sport with similar intensity as rock climbing for which he has a strong passion but is no longer able to participate. From the his experiences  on his journey to the Warrior Games, Miller has found a passion for recreation therapy and plans to take what he  learned and help others, like him, find a passion for something in which they may have lost hope.

Army Sitting Volleyball Team to Compete for Gold at Warrior Games

Members of the U.S. Army sitting volleyball team faced the U.S. Air Force team during the 2012 Warrior Games at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. (U.S. Army photo by CPL Kyle Wagoner, 43rd Public Affairs Detachment)

By CPL Kyle Wagoner, 43rd Public Affairs Detachment      
The U.S. Army sitting volleyball team was victorious in their match against the U.S. Air Force team during 2012 Warrior Games on May 2, 2012 at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colorado. Their victory placed them in the finals competing for gold against the Marines, on May 4.

The Army team of wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers and Veterans defeated the Air Force team after winning the first two sets in the match.

The score at the end of the first set was 25-23, with the second set ending in 25-21.

The Warrior Games, hosted by the U.S. Olympic Committee and supported by the U.S. Department of Defense, began April 30 and concludes May 6.

The Warrior Games allows athletes to demonstrate the dedication and determination of wounded, ill, and injured men and women of the armed forces by highlighting their abilities as athletes and warriors.

Army Soldiers and Veterans in the competition are competing against servicemembers from the Air Force, Coast Guard, Marines, Navy, and Special Operations Command for gold in seven sporting events and for the Chairman’s Cup, an award given to the top-performing service team.

The game against the Air Force was neck and neck, but through skill and teamwork the Army team prevailed.

“We came back from behind, overcame adversity, and won the game,” said retired SGT Robbie Gaupp, a player on the sitting volleyball team and native of Gatesville, Texas. “I knew we were going to play for nothing less than gold.”

After losing to the Marines in their first match earlier this week, coach David Vendt prepared his players for an inevitable rematch.

“We have to make sure that we’re mentally focused and that we continue to play the game we know how to play. And play it the Army way,” Vendt said. “We’re going to take it tomorrow night.”

Army Dominates Marines In WheelChair Basketball Rematch

Retired Army CPL Perry Price III, of Wilmington, Del., races down the basketball court alongside retired Army SPC Juan Soto, a San Antonio, Texas, native, at a wheelchair basketball game against the Marines during the 2012 Warrior Games at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. on May 3. The Army defeated the Marines 45-27. (Photo by Army SGT Jerry Griffis, 43rd Public Affairs Detachment)

By SGT Jerry Griffis, 43rd Public Affairs Detachment
Two rivals met on the court again May 3, 2012, for a second night of wheelchair basketball.  The Warrior Games continued with the Army team facing off against the Marines for a chance at the gold medal.  Fans cheered, and anticipation was high as the game began with retired Army CPL Perry Price III, a Wilmington, Del. native, scoring the first two points of the game.

The Warrior Games is an annual competition between wounded, injured, and ill service members from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and SOCOM.  The games feature a variety of sporting events, including cycling, shooting, wheelchair basketball, archery, track and field, swimming, and sitting volleyball.

The game was not without bumps and bruises.  At one point, retired Army SSG Paul Roberts, of Newport News, Va., scored two points right before crashing into a padded goal support.  The play was highly contested between the two teams, and after falling out of his chair, Roberts walked off the court unassisted.

Overall the Army team dominated the game with a final score of 45-27.

“We were going to come out like we would against anybody, with a lot of intensity, and a lot of focus and try to have a little patience on offense and get the shots that we wanted,” said Doug Varner, the Army wheelchair basketball coach. “We have one game left and it will be the gold medal.  We will make a few tweaks defensively.  The Marines played really well.

“The team played great. The team played as a team all the way through, said Army Veteran, Damion Peyton, of Washington, D.C. “I’m not even worried about us getting that gold.”

Army Takes Another Win in Sitting Volleyball

The U.S. Army and British Armed Forces sitting volleyball teams pose for a photo after an exhibition match for the 2012 Warrior Games on May 2, at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. The British team was invited to participate in the Warrior Games this year as a special guest. (Photo by Army SGT Jerry Griffis, 43rd Public Affairs Detachment)

By Sgt. Jerry Griffis, 43rd Public Affairs Detachment

The U.S. Army sitting volleyball team won their third match of the 2012 Warrior Games on May 2, and also bested the British Armed Forces team in an exhibition match.

During the match between the Army and SOCOM, the Army dominated the first set with a score of 25-16.  The second set was such an easy win, but the Army came out victorious in the end with a score of 26-24.

It was a night of camaraderie and friendship as the Army played a match against the British Armed Forces team who were invited to this year’s Warrior Games as special guests.  The Army won the first set 25-17.  Showing they were not to be beaten easily, the British team came around to score a victory in the second set, 25-12.  The match continued into a third set to break the tie, with the Army winning the set 15-10.

After the exhibition game, the U.S. Army and the British team came together to pose for photographs and congratulate one another on a game well played.

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