Wounded Warriors Speak Up to Improve Warrior Care

By COL Gregory D. Gadson, AW2 Director

AW2 Director Gregory D. Gadson and AW2 Sergeant Major SGM Robert Gallagher cut the ribbon to open the Community Support Exhibit Hall during the first day of the 2011 AW2 Symposium.

It’s great to be in Orlando, FL this week meeting and visiting with our AW2 Soldiers, Veterans, and their Families. Today I had the privilege of welcoming almost 100 delegates to the seventh annual Army Wounded Warrior Program (AW2) Symposium. For those of you unfamiliar with this program, it is an opportunity for wounded warriors, their spouses, and their caregivers to have a voice in identifying and resolving issues that impact severely wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers and Veterans, and their Families.

The AW2 Symposium is part of the Army Family Action Plan process and a formal way to identify issues and recommend changes to senior Army leaders. In fact, past AW2 Symposium recommendations have resulted in an additional $10,000 in VA housing benefits; a monthly stipend for primary caregivers; and expanded Traumatic Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance coverage by adding TBI and paralysis in one limb as qualification criteria. Clearly, you can see that the group here this week has a huge responsibility to continue to positively influence the future of Army warrior care. Not to worry, they are dedicated and up to the task.

And, they have an interesting week ahead of them. This week is going to be a combination of hard work, sharing, and networking. We are going to look at issues, identify problems, provide feedback, and celebrate accomplishments. We’ll focus on ways to continue to improve, evolve, and better meet the needs of Soldiers, Veterans, Families, and caregivers. Bottom line – this week is about improving warrior care. Our delegates will be working long days, looking at issues that impact Soldiers, Veterans, and Families across the Army, and on Friday will brief top issues along with recommendations on how to resolve them to AW2, Warrior Transition Command, Medical Command, and Veterans Affairs leaders. We’ll also look at efficiencies, redundancies, and programs that may be obsolete. We want to maximize resources so that they serve the most people.

For the first time, we included delegates from the Warrior Transition Units in this process. BG Darryl A. Williams, Assistant Surgeon General and Commander, Warrior Transition Command, and I believe strongly that combining the experiences and recommendations of these populations will significantly strengthen our alliance and improve our way ahead. We’re similar populations who can learn from and support each other.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that while we are working extremely hard this week, we are also Family-focused. Many children accompanied their parents, and boy, do we have a great week in store for them! Their only job is to play hard and have a good time. The National Military Family Association very graciously offered to host an urban adventure camp that includes swimming, horseback riding, arts and crafts, and lots of other fun activities.

As for me–you all know that I’m a wounded warrior myself. I’m also a firm believer that there is no one better suited to identify the challenges and recommend solutions than those who live and breathe the Army Warrior Care and Transition Program. There are always ways to improve and I’m confident this group of delegates is up for the challenge.

I encourage you to check back on the AW2 blog, AW2 Facebook page, and WTC Twitter page for more updates on the AW2 Symposium throughout the week.

Commander’s Drumbeat: Fort Hood’s “Leadership Engagement”

By BG Darryl A. Williams, WTC Commander

BG Darryl A. Williams

It’s always good to return to Fort Hood and check in. My visit to the Warrior Transition Brigade (WTB) was fantastic. I saw a strong demonstration of extraordinary senior mission leader involvement. They were plugged in, turned on, and genuinely interested in their wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers, or Warriors in Transition! They were connected with the Triad of Care leadership, committed to resources the cadre, and displayed a lot of energy when they talked about our warriors.

After visiting with leadership, I met with several Warriors in Transition to see how things were going for them. For the first time in my visits to Warrior Transition Units, I heard something new—that their squad leaders were not tired. If the positive comments I heard from Fort Hood’s Warriors in Transition were any indication, the leader’s energy and focus on our wounded warriors is making a huge and positive difference.

Before I sign off I absolutely have to offer a shout-out to some of the folks there to recognize the hard work and great results.

  • SFC Sonja Talley-Jones is a Platoon Sergeant with the Remote Care Company. She is responsible for the care 12 Soldiers in an area of operations spanning over 900 square miles in Northwest Texas.
  • Sandra Townson is the ombudsman for Carl R. Darnall Medical Center. She and her team of professionals act as mediators for issues Soldiers may face during the healing process. She acts as ombudsman for the over 600 Warriors in Transition of the Fort Hood Warrior Transition Brigade.
  • CPT Levita Springer is the Brigade Medical Officer and a Nurse Case Manager. She oversees patient intake to include all medevacs from theater and has implemented a Comprehensive Treatment Plan that was adopted as a model across WTC.
  • Carol Livingood AW2 advocate for B Co 1st Bn WTB supported the goal of former WTB Soldier, Clayton Carver, to transition to a professional fisherman. In fact, he will be hosting ‘Purple Heart Fishing’ on local PBS affiliate KLRU starting in August this year.
  • Joy Pasco is an AW2 Advocate for D Co 1st Bn WTB and the Remote Care Company. Mrs. Pasco provides assistance for 50 Soldiers and is focused on helping Soldiers through the MEB process who want to stay in the Army. She is responsible for assisting an AW2 Soldier who went through the MEB process, received COAD status, and now is back in the fight in Iraq.
  • I’ll end with MAJ David Shoupe, the battalion’s public affairs officer. He is busy getting the word out on all things WTB at Fort Hood and a huge asset to the organization. Supporting the leadership and WTB Soldiers by communicating the challenges and successes of the organization is one of our most important missions—MAJ Shoupe is clearly on top of this.

Things at Fort Hood looked great. Thank you all for your support and commitment to our wounded, ill and injured Soldiers. Your enthusiasm for your work is obvious. Continue engaging with your leaders at all levels—your successes are directly tied to your skills and the strong relationships you’ve built internally and externally.

WTU Cadre Recognized for their Commitment to Wounded Warriors

By SSG Emily Anderson, WTC Stratcom

Men and women from Warrior Transition Units (WTU) across the United States and Europe were recognized for their dedication to the wounded, ill, and injured warriors and their Families during an award ceremony at the U.S. Army Medical Command Training Symposium.

BG Darryl Williams, Commander of the Warrior Transition Command (WTC), and CSM Benjamin Scott, WTC Command Sergeant Major, commended them for their gallant and courageous support and efforts.

“All professionals involved in the triad of care provide a considerable support system for wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers,” Williams said. “The Army cannot thank them enough for their hard work and dedication to our Soldiers.”

“These individuals demonstrate an unrelenting commitment to the Soldiers and Families they serve,” said Williams. “They’re passionate and skilled about their work and about helping Soldiers recover transition and move forward with their lives.”

The winners and nominees from each category are:

Category 1—Warrior Transition Unit Squad Leader of the Year, Warrior Care and Transition Program Cadre Award for Excellence:

Winner:
SSG Forrest Two Crow, Warrior Transition Unit, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii

Nominees:
SFC Katrina O’Coin, Warrior Transition Unit Fort Belvoir, VA
SFC Yancey Caldwell, Warrior Transition Unit, Fort Sam Houston, TX
SSG Ryan Stern, Warrior Transition Unit, Europe
SGT Jeremy Madrid, Warrior Transition Unit, Fort Carson, CO

Category 2—Warrior Transition Unit Platoon Sergeant of the Year, Warrior Care and Transition Program Cadre Award for Excellence:

Winner:
SFC Sharon Pickett-Williams, Warrior Transition Unit, Fort Sam Houston, TX

Nominees:
SFC Norbert Fuata, Warrior Transition Unit, Schofield Barracks, HI
SFC Glasglow Griffin, Warrior Transition Unit, Fort Lewis, WA
SFC Innocenzo Iorio, Warrior Transition Unit, West Point, NY

Category 3—Community-Based Warrior Transition Unit Platoon Sergeant of the Year, Warrior Care and Transition Program Cadre Award for Excellence:

Winner:
SFC Richard Driscoll, Community-Based Warrior Transition Unit, MA

Nominees:
MSG Lawrence Smith, Community-Based Warrior Transition Unit, CA
SFC Rose Mays, Community-Based Warrior Transition Unit, AK

Category 4—Warrior Transition Unit Nurse Case Manager of the Year, Warrior Care and Transition Program Cadre Award for Excellence:

Winner:
Ms. Deborah Cashwell, Warrior Transition Unit, Fort Bragg. NC

Nominees:
LTC Sharon Stanley-Alden, Warrior Transition Unit, Europe
Ms. Linda Ward, Warrior Transition Unit, Schofield Barracks, HI
Ms. Renae Allen, Warrior Transition Unit, Fort Carson, CO
Ms. Karen Jackson, Warrior Transition Unit, Fort Stewart, GA

Category 5—Community-Based Warrior Transition Unit Nurse Case Manager of the Year, Warrior Care and Transition Program Cadre Award for Excellence:

Winner:
1LT Joe Samudio, Community-Based Warrior Transition Unit, AK

Nominees:
MAJ Teresa Golan, Community-Based Warrior Transition Unit, MA
MAJ Sandra Holmes, Community-Based Warrior Transition Unit, CA

Category 6—Warrior Transition Unit Primary Care Manager of the Year, Warrior Care and Transition Program Cadre Award for Excellence:

Winner:
MAJ Kate Mitchell, Warrior Transition Unit, Fort Huachuca, AZ

Nominees:
LTC David Wallace, Warrior Transition Unit, Fort Drum, NY
MAJ Timothy Switaj, Warrior Transition Unit, Europe
CPT Sally DelVecchio, Warrior Transition Unit, Fort Sam Houston, TX

Category 7—Community-Based Warrior Transition Unit Primary Care Manager of the Year, Warrior Care and Transition Program Cadre Award for Excellence:

Winner:
COL Deborah Davis, Community-Based Warrior Transition Unit, AL

Nominee:
CPT Pablo Sanchez-Barranco, Community-Based Warrior Transition Unit, IL

Category 8—Warrior Transition Unit Social Worker of the Year, Warrior Care and Transition Program Cadre Award for Excellence:

Winner:
Mrs. Rebecca Barron, Warrior Transition Unit, Fort Jackson, SC

Nominees:
Ms. Donna Gatewood, Warrior Transition Unit, Schofield Barracks, HI
Ms. Janet McDermott, Warrior Transition Unit, Fort Wainwright, AK
Mr. James Elliott, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, DC
Mr. Maurice Murphy, Warrior Transition Unit, Europe

Category 9—Warrior Transition Unit Occupational Therapist of the Year, Warrior Care and Transition Program Cadre Award for Excellence:

Winner:
Dr. Sheryl Michel, Warrior Transition Unit, Fort Sam Houston, TX

Nominee:
Ms. Sara Hook, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, DC

AW2 Soldier Receives Highest Military Award for Heroism

By SSG Emily Anderson, WTC Stratcom

AW2 Soldier SFC Leroy A. Petry was awarded the Medal of Honor yesterday, the nation’s highest military award for valor.

Yesterday, AW2 Soldier SFC Leroy A. Petry was awarded the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military award for heroism, by President Barack Obama at the White House.

“The service of Leroy Petry speaks to the very essence of America—that spirit that says, no matter how hard the journey, no matter how steep the climb, we don’t quit. We don’t give up,” President Obama said during the award ceremony.

Leroy Petry “showed that true heroes still exist and that they’re closer than you think,” President Obama added.

After months of rehabilitation and therapy, Petry, who joined the Army in September 1999, was able to continue his military career through Continuation on Active Duty (COAD)—an Army program offering many wounded, ill, and injured warriors who desire to continue their Army service, if approved, an opportunity to do so.

Soldiers who meet at least one of three requirements—have served 15-20 years of service, qualify in a critical skill or shortage military occupational specialty, or have a disability as a result of combat or terrorism—can apply to serve through the COAD program, regardless of the extent of their injuries or time in service.

Nearly 177 AW2 Soldiers who are severely wounded, ill, and injured continue to serve in the military. Maintaining these experienced Soldiers is a win-win situation for the Soldier because they are able to continue their military careers, and for the force because the Army benefits from these Soldiers’ skills, experiences, and expertise.

On May 26, 2008, Petry, a Ranger assisting in a daylight helicopter assault mission near Paktya, Afghanistan, and another Ranger, entered an outer courtyard to secure an inner area. Once the inside area was cleared, the two Rangers moved to secure the rest of the vicinity. Unknown to them, the Rangers moved into a section containing enemy fighters.

As the enemies fired upon them, Petry and another Ranger moved to find cover behind a chicken coop, the only available area to shield them.

Before reaching the chicken coop, Petry was wounded by one round, which went through both his legs and the other Ranger, was hit in the side by a separate round. Petry successfully moved the other Ranger out of enemy fire and immediately reported the situation.

When a third Ranger came to their assistance the enemy threw a grenade toward the three Rangers, wounding two of them. Shortly after the first, the enemy threw a second grenade. Realizing the threat, Petry risked his life to save the other Rangers by grabbing the live hand grenade and throwing it away from his fellow Rangers, removing the immediate threat to their lives.

Unfortunately, Petry sustained additional injuries when the grenade detonated shortly after he threw it. The explosion caused the loss of his right hand and multiple shrapnel pieces to penetrate his body.

Despite suffering numerous injuries, Petry remained calm, quickly placed a tourniquet on his right arm and continued to lead.

Once they were out of immediate danger and received medical attention, Petry continued to remain calm and informed the medics about his injuries, which helped them assist Petry with treatment.

“This is the stuff of which heroes are made. This is the strength, the devotion that makes our troops the pride of every American. And this is the reason that—like a Soldier named Leroy Petry— America doesn’t simply endure, we emerge from our trials, stronger, more confident, with our eyes fixed on the future,” said President Obama.

Petry plans to continue what he has been doing for the last 11 years. He will put on the uniform, lace up his boots, and serve his country. He plans to retire from the Army after many more years of service.

Read more about Petry’s story on the U.S. Army website and the Department of Defense website.

 

Commander’s Drumbeat: Fort Bragg’s “Team Focus”

By BG Darryl A. Williams, WTC Commander

BG Darryl A. Williams

You’ve all heard the expression—people rise to expectations—I believe that. I’ve witnessed it throughout my career and nowhere is it more visible than at the Fort Bragg Warrior Transition Unit (WTU). It was clear during a recent visit that these warriors don’t just rise to meet expectations, they exceed them on a daily basis.

I want to publicly recognize LTC James Schumacher, Commander, Fort Bragg WTU; COL Brian Canfield, Commander, Womack Army Medical Center; LTC Arthur Campbell, Chief, Department of Deployment; and COL Niel Johnson, Chief, Department of Family Medicine, they are the blue print of a successful team—setting, meeting, and exceeding high expectations. One of the most impressive teams they created includes Senior Mission Commander, MG Rodney Anderson, Deputy Commanding General, XVIII Airborne Corps, Fort Bragg. They all meet weekly and in my opinion, this results in a culture that supports warriors, their Families, and the healing process.

It’s always exciting to be at Fort Bragg, this visit did not disappoint. I met great leaders, great Soldiers, and got to see the new WTU complex construction—this is located by the medical center and is on a glide path for completion in 2012. This is going to be a state-of-the-art facility and will include Family assistance, barracks, dining, and housing services.

I absolutely have to give a nod to their adaptive sports program. This was one of the highlights of the visit. I recall clearly how hard the warriors worked in the gym. Whew! These Soldiers were giving it their all and soaked in sweat to prove it. Fort Bragg may have the premier adaptive sports program around. It’s at least one of the best I’ve seen. It’s truly inspiring to watch these warriors at work. In fact, they recently introduced a pilot program in coordination with Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Performance Enhancement Program that allows Warriors in Transition to participate in daily cardio and muscular workouts at various stations as part of their duty day. This is a great success—way to go Fort Bragg!

The team at Fort Bragg demonstrates an unrelenting commitment to the Soldiers and Families they serve. They’re passionate, skilled, and dedicated to helping Soldiers recover and move forward with their lives. They have created a good command climate, a warrior culture, and embraced the warrior ethos.

As I sign off, I want to also recognize the following:

  • Dr. Lorene Petta, Performance Enhancement Specialist, and SFC Class Christopher Thornton, Fort Bragg Warrior Transition Battalion Master Resiliency Trainer, who launched the Fort Bragg WTU adaptive sports program, resulting in many warriors in transition trying new adaptive sports such as sitting volleyball and wheelchair basketball. I even recognized a few Warrior Games competitors there.
  • Mr. Clyde Foster, AW2 advocate, and Ms. Betty Goolsby, Director, Fayetteville Veterans Administration Medical Center, are other members of the team focusing on healing folks.
  • AW2 Community Support Network member, Give an Hour, a national nonprofit organization that provides counseling for military servicemembers affected by the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and their Families.

I want to thank the Fort Bragg team for their hard work in supporting our wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers. I encourage you all to continue your efforts because your high expectations and team building skills are making a difference.

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.

Sixteen Organizations Join AW2 Community Support Network

By Patty Sands, WTC Stratcom

Join me in welcoming the newest organizations in the AW2 Community Support Network. These organizations are part of the 236 AW2 Community Support Network organizations that 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, injured, and ill Soldiers, Veterans and their Families? If so, please email the AW2 Community Support Network at the below email address. I welcome your recommendations and referrals.

Send organization referrals to AW2CommunitySupportNetwork@conus.army.mil

Conference Prepares Case Managers to Deliver Improved Quality of Care

By COL Suzanne Scott, WTC Chief Nurse

As case managers, our “raison d’être” is to integrate and coordinate care and services for our patients in order to help them achieve optimum health or improved functional capability in the right setting. Recently, thousands of case managers from across the country gathered in San Antonio, TX, for the Case Management Society of America’s Annual Conference & Expo. This weeklong session was designed to help case managers improve the delivery of services to both individual patients and across organizations.

For the over 350 Department of Defense (DOD) and Veterans Affairs (VA) case managers attending the conference, information-sharing and collaboration started early with a combined DOD/VA case management session to discuss hot topics within our individual healthcare settings. This year’s hot topics significantly impact the delivery of care to wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers, Veterans, and their Families. Topics included the Americans with Disabilities Act, suicide prevention, the Comprehensive Pain Management Campaign Plan, women’s health services in the VA, and patient-centered medical homes.

The keynote address was delivered by RADM Christine Hunter, the Deputy Director for TRICARE Management Activity. Hunter touched on each of the hot topics of interest to case managers and tied everything back to the delivery of quality, effective care by case managers. She specifically addressed the case managers caring for wounded, ill, and injured servicemembers, and discussed some of the how-to processes for case managers to effectively navigate TRICARE to coordinate network services for Soldiers, Veterans, and their Families.

Adriana Wilson and Susan Turner from the VA reinforced the critical skills case managers need in the area of suicide prevention. Through a series of vignettes based on actual patient encounters, the Wilson-Turner team drove home the importance of relationship building and the critical need for an ongoing thorough assessment process. Wilson reviewed current suicide statistics and Turner talked about key suicide warning signs to look for in our patients. The duo reminded attendees that as professionals, case managers must ask the right questions to have an impact on suicide prevention.

Ten case management teams from all military services and the VA presented best practices in a poster session. I hope to highlight a few key initiatives in future blog postings. As we walked around the room and talked to the presenters, it was evident that we continue to demonstrate the value of case management through the continued improvements made in individual practice settings.

The conference included a panel discussion with representatives from TRICARE Management Activity, Army, Navy, and Air Force on patient centered medical homes as well as a review of Defense Center of Excellence resources and tools for psychological health and traumatic brain injury for case managers.

At this point, I imagine you are asking, “What’s in it for me?” Well, you can expect that this team of over 350 case managers from DOD and VA returned home with improved skills and a wealth of knowledge on best practices from both military and civilian healthcare management that they will share with you to help continue to enhance warrior care. Case managers can expect in-service training to communicate new evidence-based practice findings and key initiatives. Wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers, Veterans, and Families can expect an expanding resource list to help you through the transition process. Commanders and leaders can expect motivated case manager leaders to continue to facilitate warrior care and transition.

Fourth of July… One of my Favorite Times of the Year

By BG Darryl A. Williams, WTC Commander

BG Darryl A. Williams

 

Today, we celebrate Independence Day—our Nation’s 235th birthday. As we enjoy all the traditions and pleasures of this uniquely American holiday, I would hope that every American would take a few minutes to remember those who have done so much to secure and safeguard our independence throughout our history. Without their sacrifice we would not be a free people reaping the benefits of the gift of freedom for which they paid so dearly.

Today, more than 200,000 Americans in uniform are deployed in harm’s way, protecting us. Their steadfast service is a continual reminder that defending our nation is a pursuit that requires persistent, diligent and disciplined commitment each and every day. Our men and women in uniform are always on watch, whether it be in Afghanistan, Iraq or a dusty lonely outpost halfway across the globe.

America’s military consists of about one-half of one percent of the American population! Yes, less than one in every 100 Americans wear the uniform of an active or reserve component member.  What a burden each carries on behalf of every single American.

We can’t thank these heroes enough for their service.

I am privileged and honored to serve as the commander of the Warrior Transition Command, a command that touches and impacts the lives of so many of our wounded, ill and injured Soldiers.  As we all team together for our Soldiers, Veterans and Families, I think of the essential services the men and women of WTC—military and civilian—provide for our wounded, ill and injured. It makes me pause and reflect. The nurse, the squad leader, the doctor, the platoon sergeant, and the other professionals create one team to support our wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers.

In America, we love to celebrate our nation’s birth, independence and freedom. From the hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill to the potato salad that adorns most backyard picnic tables it’s the sounds, smells and sights I love so much. And who can’t be touched by the parades in small and large towns filled with beautiful red white and blue colors that drape lamp posts and parade stands across our land. But my personal favorites are the small American flags that our Veteran Service Organizations, Boy Scouts and thousands of other groups plant in the ground of yards and cemeteries.

And who isn’t moved by our Veterans from past wars and conflicts raising the American flag in their yard followed by an enthusiastic salute.

Man, that really gets me!

The emotions I feel from such symbols can’t be totally explained but I feel such a sense of patriotism when I see our wonderful country come together and celebrate freedom. When I see Americans of all colors, creeds, shapes and sizes celebrate our Independence, I stand up a little taller and walk with a newfound purpose as my heart swells a bit.  My eyes mist and I get a chill. No doubt, you’ve felt it too—I know it isn’t unique to me!

Please remember—always remember—that freedom isn’t free.  The gains of 235 years can be quickly lost if we do not maintain our steadfast commitment and resolve. The responsibility it takes to retain the rights our Citizen Soldiers throughout our history fought so hard to attain can be lost.  Those Minutemen who rose with their muskets, pitchforks and grit against a formidable and seemingly unbeatable military force are an enduring example for today’s service members.

Today we are engaged in a struggle as great as any America has faced throughout her long and honored history. It is a struggle every bit as much a fight for freedom as the war that was fought in 1776. Once again it is a battle for humanity, for the rights of all people—not just Americans—to live in a world free of terror and fear.

God bless and happy birthday America.

Commander’s Drumbeat: Army Medical Command Training Symposium Wrap-up

By BG Darryl A. Williams, WTC Commander

BG Darryl A. Williams

Wow! The Army Medical Command Training Symposium in San Antonio was great. San Antonio is the home of Army Medicine as well as home to some of the warmest and friendliest people in the world. It was a pleasure to be here and to participate in this event.

For three days we focused on partnerships and had the privilege of hearing some incredible speakers, including Surgeon Vice Admiral Philip I. Raffaelli, Surgeon General, Queens Honorary Physician; the Honorable Eric Shinseki, Secretary of Veterans Affairs; Lt Gen Charles B. Green, Surgeon General, U.S. Air Force; RADM Christine S. Hunter, Deputy Director of TRICARE Management Activity; and LTG David P. Fridovich, Deputy Commander, U.S. Special Operations Command–just to name a few.

LTG Fridovich addressed the general session on the last day of the event and shared his personal story about pain medication with us. His story is inspiring and powerful. He put a face on a serious issue that impacts the Army and our nation.

LTG Eric Schoomaker, Commander, Army Medical Command and Army Surgeon General, stopped by the Warrior Transition Command (WTC) track and talked for quite awhile with the more than 100 WTC and warrior transition unit attendees. He told them he understood the difficulties of their jobs, the value of what they do every day to contribute to the healing and transition of wounded, ill, and injured warriors, and thanked them for their service. He reminded them to take care of themselves, took questions, and discussed issues from pharmaceuticals to pain management and cadre to Soldier ratios.

I can say I consider the Army Medical Command Training Symposium a success for WTC. We launched the new WTC video at our exhibit and as a result gave away several hundred copies. We also took numerous orders for the new Comprehensive Transition Plan brochure. While I’m on this topic, l want to offer a shout-out of thanks to a couple of Army Wounded Warrior Program Soldiers, Shilo Harris and Juan Guerrero, who showed up to share their personal stories with folks who stopped by our exhibit. They are extraordinary and I appreciate their support.

A special thank you also goes out to Robert Carrington, Director of Recovery Care Coordination, Office of Wounded Warrior Care and Transition Policy, Department of Defense (DOD), who addressed our attendees on Tuesday. His office is one of our most valuable partners and we share the goal of ensuring that we don’t just heal our warriors, but that we ensure job placement. It was great to have him on the agenda—he reiterated to us the continued commitment of DOD to this population and reminded us of the valuable skills these men and women bring to the federal and private sector job markets.

This symposium gave me the opportunity to meet with colleagues, staff, and friends from across the Army. I couldn’t be more pleased with the WTC track. Thank you to all of the people in MEDCOM who made the symposium happen and especially to my staff whose hard work and dedication resulted in a very productive WTC track. You all made sure we had an environment that was conducive to very candid discussions on a host of topics such as warrior transition units, community based warrior transition units, caregiver support, personnel issues, and nonprofit agency support for warriors and their Families. It was a great week for the Warrior Transition Command in the home of Army Medicine!

Commander’s Drumbeat: Let’s Roll Up Our Sleeves

By BG Darryl A. Williams, WTC Commander

BG Darryl A. Williams

Day two of the Army Medical Command Training Symposium highlighted the symposium theme–Partnerships Built on Trust. The Army Surgeon General, LTG Eric Schoomaker, kicked it off by introducing the Honorable Eric Shinseki, Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Clearly the VA is one of our most vital and valuable partners, and like Army Medicine, the good health and well-being of warriors and their Families is at the forefront of everything the VA does. He highlighted the importance of collaboration between the VA and military medicine to successfully address mental health issues, suicide prevention, electronic medical records, and the Integrated Disability Evaluation System. He reminded us that these are shared concerns, not unique to the Army, or to wounded, ill, or injured Soldiers.

Shinseki pointed out that we share common challenges in providing the best support to wounded, ill, and injured warriors and their Families, and he stressed the value of welcoming innovations and working together to resolve issues. His message was powerful. We have many valuable and long-standing partnerships especially those with our colleagues across the services, DOD, and other federal agencies.

We’re always looking for ways to improve the Warrior Care and Transition Program, and the long-term support of our Soldiers is closely intertwined with our partners throughout the government. I want to see us at Warrior Transition Command sustain and continuously improve existing partnerships and seek out new relationships that will enhance our abilities to continue to provide wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers, Veterans, and their Families our unwavering support.

To paraphrase Secretary Shinseki, “you can’t wring your hands and roll up your sleeves at the same time; you’ve got to do one or the other. Let’s roll up our sleeves.”

 

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