WTC Will Host Warrior Care Month All Service Sitting Volleyball Tournament

By:  Jim Wenzel, WTC Strategic Communications

WTC will observe Warrior Care Month by hosting an all-service sitting volleyball clinic and tournament at the Pentagon Athletic Center on November 22 with special guest facilitator, Army Veteran and Paralympian Kari Miller.


The Warrior Transition Command (WTC) will host a sitting volleyball training clinic and tournament in the Pentagon Athletic Center (PAC), Tuesday, November 22.  A training clinic is slated for 9:00-10:45am, and the tournament will be held from 11:00am-1:00pm. This tournament commemorates Warrior Care Month, observed each November.

Military teams comprised of wounded, ill, and injured servicemembers from the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, and Special Operations Command will compete for the event trophy. Pentagon league teams are also expected to participate. Everyone is invited to attend and support these resilient athletes.

Adaptive sports and reconditioning activities such as sitting volleyball play a major role in the recovery and healing process for wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers recovering at Warrior Transition Units (WTUs) across the nation.

Army Veteran and Paralympic volleyball player Kari Miller will help facilitate the clinic and tournament. Miller returned home from a deployment in Bosnia and was riding in the passenger seat of her friend’s car on December 19, 1999. A drunk driver slammed into the back of her friend’s vehicle at 80 mph. The accident required the amputation of her right leg above the knee and her left leg just below.

During the many months of surgery and rehabilitation, Miller could have given in to despair and hopelessness. Instead, she used her natural competitiveness on a journey that led her to become an ambassador for the United States Olympic Committee’s Paralympic Military Program.

“Having a world-class athlete like Kari Miller join us for this tournament gives our Soldiers an opportunity to gain a firsthand perspective of a wounded Soldier’s ability to achieve goals post-injury” said LTC Keith Williams, Officer in Charge (OIC) of the WTC Adaptive Reconditioning Program. “We look forward to Kari motivating both the wounded, ill, and injured athletes and the spectators.”

 

Warrior Transition Battalion Tips Off Warrior Care Month at Olympic Training Center

By:  Stacy Neumann, Fort Carson Medical Department Activity Public Affairs

The WTB Ft. Carson’s Bravo Company battles it out with Alpha Company in sitting volleyball at the Olympic Training Center. Alpha Company went on to win the sitting volleyball competition.

While strapping into a wheelchair for a game on the United States Olympic Training Center (OTC) courts, SSG Krisell Creager-Lumpkins shook her head and smiled, “It’s not over until it’s over.”

Headquarters & Headquarters Company’s SFC William Ingram from the Ft. Carson WTB attempts to block the ball as Bravo Company tries to make it down the court during a wheelchair basketball game at the Olympic Training Center.

The Soldiers of Fort Carson’s Warrior Transition Battalion (WTB) proved that phrase true over and over on November 3rd and 4th as companies battled head-to-head in the Commander’s Stakes and Mini-Warrior Games. About 100 troops competed in shooting, wheelchair basketball, cycling, sitting volleyball, track and field, archery, and swimming.

Many times, the winner was decided by a single point in the last few seconds.

LTC Mechelle Tuttle, WTB commander, said, “I think it’s inspirational. When you look at someone who has overcome what they’ve had to overcome and see their success, it makes you rethink your outlook on things.”

SGT Chris Champion, who lost a leg in Afghanistan’s Arghandab Valley and is preparing to return to duty with the 4th Infantry Division, added, “It shows that amputees are just as able as everyone else.”

The games kicked off with the WTB’s observance of the Army-wide recognition of Warrior Care Month in November.

BG Darryl Williams, Assistant Surgeon General for Warrior Care and Commander, Warrior Transition Command (WTC), said, “Most people think of the combat injured when they hear the term warrior care. Clearly, there is no greater or higher calling than helping these men and women heal.”

Williams noted, “Warrior care is also the prevention of illnesses and accidents, having the best protective gear, maintaining a strong medical readiness posture, investing in research, and knowing the best trained medics in the world are standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Soldiers on the battlefield.”

Soldiers cheer on Ft. Carson WTB’s SGT Gerardo Madrano as he cycled around the track at Memorial Park in Colorado Springs. The Charlie Company Soldier posted the second best time in the cycling competition.

Across the Army, Warrior Transition Units (WTUs) are holding events to highlight what they and the nation do in the spirit of warrior care.

In addition to the games, Fort Carson WTB Soldiers built and rode on a float in the Colorado Springs Veterans parade.  The battalion is hosting the Department of Defense’s Recovering Warrior Task Force and getting together for a Fall Festival.

“Sports have proven to be therapeutic in the healing process,” she said. “Our goal is to prepare 30 people for the upcoming Warrior Games in April. The only thing limiting yourself–is yourself.”

SSG Creager-Lumpkins is coping with a brain injury she sustained after a fall in Afghanistan and she agreed, “I think it’s liberating.  This puts everybody on the same playing field.  I never thought with my ailment I could do something like this.  There’s tenacity and resilience out here.”

That tenacity paid off for one WTB company. When it was finally over, Creager-Lumpkins and the rest of the WTB’s Alpha Company pulled off the overall Commander’s Stakes win.

 

Special Compensation for Assistance with Activities of Daily Living (SCAADL)

By Jim Wenzel, WTC Stratcom
Attention wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers, Warrior Transition Unit cadre, and Army leaders. Special Compensation for Assistance with Activities of Daily Living (SCAADL) was authorized by the Fiscal Year 2010 National Defense Authorization Act. This special monthly compensation is for active servicemembers who incur a permanent catastrophic injury or illness.

It is important to note that SCAADL compensation is not automatic, the Soldier or his or her guardian must apply, and a DOD or Veterans Affairs (VA) physician must complete a DD Form 2948 to certify eligibility. If the attending physician is not affiliated with DOD or VA, arrangements can be made to have a DOD or VA physician review the Soldier’s case and complete the certification.

SCAADL helps offset the loss of income by a primary caregiver who provides non-medical care, support, and assistance for the servicemember. This compensation continues until 90 days after the Soldier is separated from the service, when he or she begins receiving compensation under a VA program, or the Soldier recovers and he or she no longer requires assistance with activities of daily living.

To apply for SCAADL, Warriors in Transition should contact their chain of command and Primary Care Manager.  More information and frequently asked questions can be found in the SCAADL Information Sheet on the WTC website.

For questions, please send an email to WTC.g1scaadl@conus.army.mil or call 703/325-2030.

 

Educating and Informing Others on AW2 through Hockey

By Stephen Lew, AW2 Advocate

AW2 Advocate Stephen Lew spread the word about AW2 with his local community during the annual Lebanon Valley College vs. Navy Hockey Game during the Military Appreciation Night at Hershey Park Arena on October 28, 2011.

The Army Wounded Warrior Program (AW2) Advocates often attend events to support AW2 Soldiers, Veterans, and Families and to educate others on the support that AW2 provides for them. I was fortunate to not only be invited, but provide AW2 information and material to attendees during the second annual Military Appreciation Night at the Hershey Park Arena in Hershey, PA.

The night consisted of the Lebanon Valley College (Dutchmen) ice hockey team playing against the Naval Academy team. During the event last year, the Hershey Park Arena hosted the event as a fundraiser for wounded warriors through a nonprofit organization.

As I stood at my AW2 table, the general public came to my display and asked what the difference was between last year’s nonprofit organization and AW2. My response –AW2 is the Army lead and designed by the Soldier for the Soldier. AW2 works inside the network of Army, government, and local and national resources to help Soldiers, Veterans, and their Families resolve many issues. Wounded warriors may apply for a wide array of benefits in order to help them recover physically, prepare financially, and build their skills for a rewarding career. AW2 Advocates, like me, ensure that AW2 Soldiers, Veterans, and their Families are connected with these benefits and services, which span:

  • Career and education
  • Insurance
  • Finance
  • Retirement and transition
  • Healthcare
  • Services for Families
  • Human resources

It was a great opportunity to inform and educate numerous Veterans and non-Veterans about AW2. In the end, The Naval Academy rolled over the Dutchmen by 3 to 2, final score.

Thank you to the Lebanon Valley College ice hockey team head coach, Don Parsons, and assistant coach, John Denver, for connecting the U.S. Army Wounded Warrior Program with this opportunity—and future opportunities—to help members of the community learn more about the Army’s support for wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers, Veterans, and their Families.

 

AW2 Family Continues to Serve Country and Wounded

By Emily Oehler, WTC Stratcom
Every time I talk with Gina Hill on the phone, I feel better. When I look at pictures of her kids, I smile. When I hear about her wounded husband’s progress, I am thankful. When I hear that they are receiving a new home in a place that is less disruptive for Allen’s PTSD, I am comforted. When I learned that Gina started a non-profit to help build stronger community connections between emergency responders, servicemembers, and local support programs, I am amazed. Knowing this combat-wounded Family makes we want to be a better person and do more!

AW2 spouse Gina Hill starts non-profit, Silent Siren, to build support community for Soldiers, Veterans, and Families facing PTSD. Photo Courtesy of Mike Parker

Allen Hill was serving in Iraq in 2007 when his truck was hit by an improvised explosive device (IED).  At the 2010 AW2 Symposium press conference, Gina said, “While the majority of Allen’s physical, or visible, wounds have healed, our Family still struggles daily with the psychological wounds. Often times, these are called the invisible wounds, but I have a hard time calling them that, for they are very visible to anyone who spends any amount of time with him.”

Like most Army Families, the Hills never give up.

The Hills worked at the AW2 Symposium (link) to help the Army identify areas of improvement for warrior care—and provide recommendations. Gina Hill presented to Congress  for Mental Illness Awareness Month to increase awareness of the impact of PTSD on the entire Family. And now, they are launching Silent Siren, already a member of the Community Support Network.

The mission of Silent Siren is to build strong community collaborations that enhance and expand existing community crisis intervention/supports for military service individuals and their Families. They believe that the following actions and approaches will help achieve this mission:

• Empower persons supporting an individual with PTSD to utilize local emergency support services
• Educate emergency support personnel and military Families and caregivers about PTSD and the fundamental approaches to responding to PTSD crisis situations.
• Engage local community counseling & support resources that can be readily available to navigate Family members and caregivers through crisis situations.

Silent Siren consists of 3 core elements:

1. Establishment of a PTSD registry for community members with PTSD and market the registry to each participating community.
2. Utilization of Silent Siren to help train emergency services personnel on effective emergency response approaches when responding to PTSD crisis intervention calls.
3. Implement, with the assistance of Silent Siren, a Family/caregiver support system. This system should include professional mental health resources available to respond alongside and emergency responder to help a Family navigate the complexities of a mental health/PTSD crisis situation.

You can get to know the Hill Family a bit tonight, Friday, November 4, on Extreme Home Makeover. Knowing them will show you firsthand how dynamic our Soldiers, Veterans, and Families are—to heed the call to serve in a time of war, and continue to give back once wounded.

Army Ten-Miler– Race Day

BG Darryl Williams, Commander, Warrior Transition Command, poses with the runners and volunteers from the WTC Army Ten-Miler team and the Community Based Warrior Transition Unit-Illinois team.

By LTC Jeanette Griffin, WTC Stratcom
The 27th Army Ten-Miler (ATM) race took place on October 9.  More than 30,000 registered runners, including the infamous WTC Army Ten-Miler Team, competed in one of the largest 10 mile races in the world.

I was fortunate to be a part of the first ever Warrior Transition Command (WTC) ATM team and first ever WTC HOOAH Tent. Everyone was excited to see WTC represented at the ATM’s HOOAH zone and BG Darryl Williams, Assistant Surgeon General for Warrior Care and Transition and WTC Commander, showed his support to everyone participating, giving special recognition to the WTUs, Community Based Warrior Transition Units (CBWTUs), and the Missing Parts in Action Team.

The WTC team consisted of 20 military and civilians who came together to participate as a team, as well as meet individual goals during this great race. The race began on Route 110 and finished in the Pentagon North Parking Lot. The landmarks along the course were spectacular—the Lincoln Memorial, Dr. Martin Luther King Memorial, Washington Monument, and the Capitol Building.

What a perfect day for a race—the weather was absolutely gorgeous. The Missing Parts in Action team members and other wounded warrior athletes truly inspired us to continue until we reached our goal of reaching the finish line. The excitement and camaraderie of the runners, spectators, and volunteers was highly motivating throughout the race— the months of hard work and sweat finally paid off.

LTG Jack C. Stultz, Chief, Army Reserve and BG Darryl Williams exchanged greetings and during the Army Ten-Miler.

Everyone commented that the HOOAH tent was decorated beautifully, and I have to agree. There were pictures of Soldiers, Veterans, and Families covering the inside of the tent and the food was amazing! Several volunteers and runners made their “World Famous Chili” and one volunteer brought a particularly delicious dish of meatballs. The banner stretching above the tent showcased some of our Warrior Games athletes. Not only was the tent nicely decorated, but Family members, volunteers, and the WTC Strategic Communications Division were in full swing. Both the WTC runners and volunteers wore distinctive black WTC team shirts.  The volunteers also passed out information about our organization and  our achievements helping wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers, Veterans, and Families.

While we were lucky to have a tent in the HOOAH Tent Zone this year, the greatest reward was being able to share it with Community Based Warrior Transition Unit Illinois (CBWTU-IL).  This is an extremely diligent team of professional supporters of the wounded warrior mission.  Thanks, CBWTU-IL, for your hard work and dedication to the cause.  WTC encompasses the Army Wounded Warrior Program (AW2) and partners with WTUs and CBWTUs, so having an opportunity to gather with CBWTU-IL was remarkable.

According to LTC Paul Graham, CBWTU-IL, sharing a HOOAH tent with WTC allowed race participants to gather for photos before the race and share their race day stories afterwards over a bite to eat and drink. He also said “it was wonderful, because last year they were unable to come together like this. It was definitely a great time shared by everyone.”

We also had the opportunity to gather with the runners from the Missing Parts in Action Team— another amazing group of warriors running with a cause.

The HOOAH tent seemed to fill quickly with runners, supporters, and others wanting to share the excitement and gain knowledge of WTC. We remained very busy until the very end. Everyone was taking pictures and mingling. Among the visitors, were people from the Fort Sam Houston WTU, Community Based Warrior Transition Unit Massachusetts (CBWTU-MA), West Point WTU, and Alpha Co., WTU Fort Irwin, California.

WTC works hard to make sure everyone knows we are focused on care and support for all wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers and Veterans in the Active, Guard, and  Reserve. We reiterated this mission with our visit to the Army Reserve HOOAH Tent where BG Williams had the opportunity to exchange greetings with LTG Jack C. Stultz, Chief, Army Reserve. To our surprise, our tent was also visited by wrestlers from the Army’s World Class Athlete Program who were working in the Army Reserve tent.

Retired SGT Robbie Gaupp, an injured Veteran and former National Guardsman, hung out at our tent. He spent his time talking about being in the National Guard and his wonderful experience during the 2011 Warrior Games. I applaud him for his hard work and hope to see him compete in the 2012 games.

Another important piece of the WTC HOOAH tent was the live broadcast by Charlie “Coach” Hatcher. Coach Hatcher is the host and executive producer of Sports Inside and Out, which broadcasted internationally in conjunction with the American Forces Network.

During his time at our tent, he was joined by NBA Philadelphia 76ers legend Walli Jones who was on hand with BG Williams, to speak to ATM wounded warriors that finished the race.

I would say the WTC team and the HOOAH tent were a major success. Congratulations to all of the ATM participants, you did a great job. I also want to say thank you to all of the volunteers and Families who came out to help and we look forward to your participation next year.

 

AW2 Veteran’s Rehabilitation Is Definitely “On Par”

By Chris Lewandowski, AW2 Advocate

To say it has been a busy couple of weeks for AW2 Veteran retired CPL Chad Pfeifer, would be an understatement. One week after winning the 2011 National Amputee Golf Championship, Pfeifer made his way to Irving, Texas, where he won the Inaugural Bush Center Warrior Open. The Warrior Open was sponsored by the George W. Bush Presidential Center and is part of the center’s Military Service Initiative, a program designed to showcase the importance of sports in the rehabilitation of wounded, ill, and injured servicemembers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

AW2 Veteran Chad Pfeifer received the Inaugural Bush Center Warrior Open championship trophy from former President George W. Bush.

Pfeifer competed against 20wounded warriors, ultimately winning the 36-hole event by nine strokes. Seven of the 20 wounded warriors participating were graduates of the Salute Military Golf Association’s program coached by PGA professional Jim Estes. After receiving the championship trophy from the former president, Pfeifer dedicated his win to “all of our brothers and sisters who paid the ultimate sacrifice.”

Pfeifer suffered an above the knee amputation of his left leg after the vehicle he was in rolled over a pressure-plate- activated improvised explosive device (IED) outside Baghdad, Iraq, in April 2007. After more than a year in recovery, Pfeifer took up golf as a form of physical therapy.  While attached to the Warrior Transition Unit (WTU) at Fort Sam Houston, Pfeifer was allowed to hit balls and golf for free. “I just fell in love with it,” says Pfeifer.

AW2 Veteran Chad Pfeifer wins the 2011 Inaugural Bush Center Warrior Open in Irving, TX.

Three years after his injury, he finished fourth in the 2010 National Amputee Golf Championship, and immediately set a new goal. “My goal was to win it,” said Pfeifer. However, winning the Warrior Open wasn’t as easy as he made it appear. “It was a little nerve-wracking with President Bush watching a lot of my tee shots,” Pfeifer said.

Stress Less Heal More Reduces Stress by Negotiating Bills for Wounded Warriors

By WTC Stratcom
Editor’s Note: Stress Less Heal More is a participant in the AW2 Community Support Network.

Stress Less Heal More (SLHM) was founded in 2009 in San Diego, CA, by Julie Kalb after going through cancer treatment. As a single mother on a limited income, she quickly realized that negotiating her bills would be the key to her financial survival. Now Julie and two assistants help others through their own medical billing challenges.

Since its inception, SLMH has been negotiating household expenses such as utilities, phone, cable, rent, credit card debt, car payments, and hospital bills for anyone with a life threatening health condition.

While SLHM initially focused on cancer, brain injury, Parkinson’s disease, and other serious health conditions, they are now offering their services to active military personnel and Veterans across the United States. Cases can easily be handled in person, by mail, phone, and email. At first while they are only staffed to handle the bill negotiation for five individuals at a time, eventually they are planning to increase the number Soldiers and Veterans they can help.

To get started, the wounded warrior or Veteran can contact SLHM at contactus@stressless-healmore.com, and they will send a form that will enable them to negotiate bills on your behalf. For more information, visit http://www.stressless-healmore.com.

Do you know of a caring organization that wants to assist wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers, Veterans, and their Families? If so, please email me at the AW2 Community Support Network at the email address below. I welcome your recommendations and referrals. Send organization referrals to AW2CommunitySupportNetwork@conus.army.mil

Advocate This!

By Miguel A. Santos III, WTC/AW2 Training Officer

What is an advocate? By definition, an advocate is:
1) a person who  argues or pleads for or on behalf of  another
2) a person who supports or defends another
3) and most importantly a champion
As a verb to “advocate” is defined as recommend, support, propose, defend, promote, speak for, propose and champion.

The WTC-AW2 Justice League

The Army Wounded Warrior Program (AW2) Advocates strive to assist Soldiers, Veterans, Families and caregivers overcome the visible, as well as the unforeseen, while supporting the AW2 population as a whole through the life-cycle process. In August, a combination of AW2 Advocates, Advocate Support Branch Subject Matter Experts, and Soldiers from across the United States gathered at the AW2 headquarters in Alexandria, VA. This effort, facilitated by Darin Callahan and Andrea Phillips, both members of the Warrior Transition Command G3|5|7 branch, examined all processes and tools an AW2 Advocate uses in the field.

Imagine a collection of super-heroes coming together each having specific knowledge, skill set, or ability.  We had a collection of Batmen, Supermen, Superwomen as well as a few Jokers which kept us honest by poking holes in theories.  I won’t sugar-coat this; it was not easy.  There were great clashes on conflicting ideas.

After a 5.8 earthquake that was initially perceived as some great breakthrough of logic and common sense never felt before in the DC area, and Hurricane Irene that shook things up and provided some interesting challenges, everyone refocused on the week-long task at hand.

 

With the current-state, and future-state maps stretched across 50 feet of wall-space like many Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) television shows you may watch, we examined processes and commonalities and identified non-value added steps for the way forward. These steps  will remove some bureaucracy, inefficient processes, and better equip Advocates with the tools to do their job in what may be a 50% shorter process time.

Hopefully, the outcome of this event will lead to the not-too-distant future Advocates being stronger, faster, and smarter at defending and smoothing out the Soldiers’ path to independence of any and all obstacles for the AW2 Soldier population.

A Throw of a Lifetime

AW2 Veteran SPC Timothy Taylor threw the opening pitch during a St. Louis Cardinals baseball game in September.

By Retired SPC Timothy Taylor, AW2 Veteran
For most people around the world, September 11, 2001, is a date they will never forget. This was true for me, but I had to wait before I could make an impact. Almost a year later, after my seventeenth birthday, I joined the Army  ready  to get in the fight. I had no way of knowing the effect that would have on me ten years later

On September 10, 2011, I got to throw the opening pitch at the St. Louis Cardinals baseball game. Just like September 11, I will never forget this day, but for very different reasons.

I never imagined that one day I would be throwing a pitch in front of 40,000 screaming fans. It was by far the coolest thing I’ve done in my life. Many great things have happened to me since I was injured in Iraq on October 27, 2005, but none more exciting than this .

I know I was lucky to be picked to attend the game, let alone throw a pitch .There are too many people to thank, but I would like to acknowledge Pat Collins, my Advocate with the Army Wounded Warrior Army Wounded Warrior Program (AW2), without her support this never would have been possible. To all my fellow wounded warriors continue to get help and push for what you deserve. To all the Soliders keep up the good fight, and come home safe.

Write a blog for WTC

Warriors in Transition can submit a blog by e-mailing WarriorCareCommunications [at] conus.army.mil.