By: Stacy Neumann, Ft. Carson Medical Department Activity Public Affairs
What does a Soldier do when he or she can no longer be a Soldier? It’s a question faced by a majority of the troops in Fort What does a Soldier do when he or she can no longer be a Soldier? It’s a question faced by a majority of the troops in Fort Carson’s Warrior Transition Battalion (WTB). Fortunately, the WTB currently has more than 250 job opportunities and internships to help Soldiers find an answer to that question.
WTB Commander LTC Mechelle Tuttle says 95 percent of the time Soldiers in the unit leave the military. While healing takes top priority once he or she lands in the WTB, not far behind is what Tuttle calls the Soldier’s second priority–to transition.
“Our job is to help facilitate them in finding a new direction,” Tuttle said. “Sometimes they’re stuck in a rut. They always wanted to be a Soldier and they don’t know how to think a different way. There’s a multitude of opportunity out there. There’s a lot that will make you a valuable part of society.”
Each Soldier develops a Comprehensive Training Plan (CTP). Through the aid of his or her transition support team, it is customized and designed to help him or her either return to the force or move into the role of Veteran. The CTP includes an education and training component where Soldiers can explore options in school, internships and other jobs. “There’s a wealth of information for Soldiers looking for opportunities,” said CW2 Ryan Moore.
Moore joined the WTB in August 2010. Originally planning to make the Army a career, Moore found he could no longer stay and cadre encouraged him to pursue his passion for photography. Moore attended classes at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center and University of Colorado, Colorado Springs.
“The resources and time that were given to me has prepared me for the transition. I had no idea what I was getting myself into and it was a radical shakeup that would change things for me,” said Moore. “The leadership and mentoring I’ve been given is unmatched.”
Soon to leave the military, Moore has been accepted and plans to earn his Master of Fine Arts in Photography at the Savannah College of Art and Design campus in Hong Kong.
About 46 percent of eligible Ft. Carson Warriors in Transition attend some type of school. Approximately 50 percent participate in on-the-job training. Currently, more than 20 different federal agencies have Soldier interns through Operation Warfighter. Northrop Grunman, Lockheed Martin, Space Command, Buckley and Peterson Air Force Base, the Forestry Service, Fort Carson, the U.S. Air Force Academy, and more also train WTB Soldiers.
Former WTB Soldier Isaac Torres said the flexibility of the education and training is key.
“Before my time in the Army, I had no trouble in school,” he explained. “After deployment, I had trouble with comprehension and understanding. I put myself down because I thought I was smarter than that.”
His WTB nurse case manager recommended art therapy classes and Torres found his niche. Since leaving the military, the former sergeant has sold several pieces, enrolled in culinary school, and hopes to combine his artistry and baking skills by becoming a pastry chef.
Torres said, “You try something like this out. You find it’s going to take a great deal of effort but you can accomplish it.”
WTB CSM Brian O’Connors added, “Education and training can help Soldiers redefine what success means to them. The biggest challenge is to get them to move out of their comfort zone and realize it will benefit them.”
Tuttle says Soldiers spend an average of about a year and a half in the WTB. During that time, nurse case managers, squad leaders, occupational therapists, and a newly hired transition coordinator help them identify how to prepare for their chosen career.
Often, organizations that want to hire Warriors in Transition will contact the Army Career and Alumni Program (ACAP) or the Army Wounded Warrior Program (AW2). “The discipline and values that come with military service is something that companies want,” said Tuttle.
WTB cadre say that’s when a Soldier finds that education and training pays off and he or she becomes a Veteran with years of service still ahead.