Eight-Time World Log-Rolling Champion Gears Up for Warrior Games Debut

By Sarah Bartnick, WTC Stratcom
Army Veteran J.R. Salzman has never been one to watch from the sidelines. Inspired by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, he enlisted in the Minnesota National Guard. During his deployments, he served on patrol missions and convoy escort teams, among the most dangerous assignments in Iraq. He competed as a professional log-roller and won eight world titles from 1998 to 2010.

Covering the 2012 Warrior Games as a reporter inspired Army Veteran J.R. Salzman to compete for a spot on the 2013 Army team. The eight-time log-rolling world champion, pictured here at a Tough Mudder event, will go for gold in cycling and track in his Warrior Games debut. (Photo courtesy of J.R. Salzman)

Covering the 2012 Warrior Games as a reporter inspired Army Veteran J.R. Salzman to compete for a spot on the 2013 Army team. The eight-time log-rolling world champion, pictured here at a Tough Mudder event, will go for gold in cycling and track in his Warrior Games debut. (Photo courtesy of J.R. Salzman)

On December 19, 2006, his unit was scouting for Improvised Explosive Devises (IEDs) when his HUMVEE was struck by an Explosively Formed Penetrator (EFP). Salzman lost his right arm below the elbow and sustained severe damage to his left hand and a traumatic brain injury. But even these injuries didn’t stop him from earning his seventh and eight world log-rolling titles, blogging about wounded warrior and military issues, or becoming a freelance journalist.

He’s a participant in life, not a watcher. That’s why he wasn’t satisfied with his role as a reporter at the 2012 Warrior Games. I met him when he covered the Warrior Transition Command press conference, and I could see it in his eyes. The itch, the frustration, the desire to get out and show all the other wounded, ill or injured athletes that he could outperform each of them. But more importantly, he found the community of “wounded warriors” he’d missed since he left the Army, a community that understands and embraces one another. A community that celebrates abilities and accomplishments just as much as winning gold.

Here’s what he wrote about his 2012 Warrior Games experience on his personal blog:

As a fellow wounded warrior at the games, I found myself with the unfamiliar feeling of comfort in my surroundings. It was a feeling I had not felt since I was a recovering patient at Walter Reed in 2007. Despite the fact I was at the games as a civilian journalist, and was surrounded by many who had injuries far more severe, I heard “thank you for your service” more times during my one-week stay than in my last six months in the civilian world. At the Warrior Games, people get it. They did not ask a million questions, some bordering on the absurd or obtuse. They did not debate you on the merits of the war, or apologize for what happened to you because you had to go “over there.

Army Swimming Team Prepares to Compete in the 2013 Warrior Games

Staff Sgt. Robert Iem, Warrior Transition Battalion Cadre Staff (left) and Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness-Performance Enhancement Specialist Kelly O’Brien (right) check in with Sgt. Delvin Maston after the team’s practice at the Iron Horse Pool on Fort Carson, Colo. on May 7, 2013. (Photo by U.S. Army Warrior Transition Command).

Staff Sgt. Robert Iem, Warrior Transition Battalion Cadre Staff (left) and Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness-Performance Enhancement Specialist Kelly O’Brien (right) check in with Sgt. Delvin Maston after the team’s practice at the Iron Horse Pool on Fort Carson, Colo. on May 7, 2013. (Photo by U.S. Army Warrior Transition Command).

After months of training and tryouts, a full day of rest, and experiencing a small piece of Colorado Springs, seven Soldiers from the U.S. Army swim team spent three early-morning hours swimming laps and perfecting their form at the Iron Horse Pool at Fort Carson, Colo.

The Army team, a dynamic mix of Soldiers and Veterans, certainly has the talent and confidence to win gold. “We’ve got a really good team of athletes and swimmers… they are a lot of fun,” said Coach Bob Bugg.

A swim instructor from Georgia, Bugg was introduced to the Warrior Games this year when a previous student – and coach for a Marine Corp Warrior Games team – recommended him. He committed to the team after a few swim camps, and along with the team’s resilience coach and Warrior Transition Battalion (WTB) Cadre, provides a tremendous amount of support to the team, while encouraging them to train hard. Other supporters in attendance for practice events included a WTB Commander, an Occupational Therapist from Fort Knox, Ky. and a handful of Fort Carson’s active duty Soldiers and Family members.

Army Swim Coach Bob Bugg helps Spc. Alaina Barnes perfect her form during practice at the Iron Horse Pool on Fort Carson, Colo. on May 7, 2013. (Photo by U.S. Army Warrior Transition Command).

Army Swim Coach Bob Bugg helps Spc. Alaina Barnes perfect her form during practice at the Iron Horse Pool on Fort Carson, Colo. on May 7, 2013. (Photo by U.S. Army Warrior Transition Command).

The Army Swim team will continue to train throughout the week in preparation for the start of the Games on Saturday, May 11, 2013. And when they are not in the pool, they are training to compete in other Warrior Games sports.

Sgt. Delvin Maston, a native of Birmingham, Ala., is no stranger to the Warrior Games, though this year is most important; he’s taking his competitive spirit from the gym floor to the pool. “I’m most excited to swim this year,” he said, adding that it has only been about six months since he learned to swim after his 2009 injury. He also plans to win more gold medals in the Wheelchair Basketball and Sitting Volleyball events.

Fellow Infantryman Spc. Quinton Picone decided to end practice on a lighter note when he pulled himself up the stairs of the higher of the two diving boards and jumped in the pool surrounded by his teammates and coaching staff. “I just wanted to do it for fun,” he said “but tomorrow, I am going to do a backflip!”

Spc. Quinton Picone dives into the pool “for fun” after three grueling hours of practice at the Iron Horse Pool on Fort Carson, Colo. on May 7, 2013. (Photo by U.S. Army Warrior Transition Command).

Spc. Quinton Picone dives into the pool “for fun” after three grueling hours of practice at the Iron Horse Pool on Fort Carson, Colo. on May 7, 2013. (Photo by U.S. Army Warrior Transition Command).

Bugg has taken quick to the courage and determination that is the warriors’ spirit and has the upmost confidence in each of his Swimmers. “They will race, and they will win!”

The Swimming events will take place on the morning of Friday, May 16, 2013 at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.

The Warrior Games bring together wounded, ill, or injured service members in a sporting competition hosted by the U.S. Olympic Committee. Competition continues throughout the week with archery, shooting, sitting volleyball, swimming, wheelchair basketball, and track and field.

To learn more about the Warrior Games or the Army athletes, visit the Warrior Transition Command at www.WTC.army.mil.

Once a Soldier…Army Veteran and Two-Time Paralympic Medalist Coaches Sitting Volleyball Team

Army Veteran Kari Miller earned two Paralympic silver medals in sitting volleyball.  In 2013, she’s coaching the Army team to defend its gold. (U.S. Air Force photo by MSG Sean M. Worrell)

Army Veteran Kari Miller earned two Paralympic silver medals in sitting volleyball. In 2013, she’s coaching the Army team to defend its gold. (U.S. Air Force photo by MSG Sean M. Worrell)

By Sarah Bartnick, WTC Stratcom
Kari Miller holds two Paralympic silvers in women’s sitting volleyball—from London and Beijing. She holds a world title, and she was named “best libero” (a special defensive position) at several prestigious international competitions. She’s among the best sitting volleyball players in the world.

And she’s coaching the 2013 Army Warrior Games team to defend their gold medal.

Miller didn’t always play sitting volleyball—her skills shone in basketball and track in high school, and she continued to play sports, even just for fun, when she joined the Army in 1995, even during her time in Bosnia and Germany.

She went home to visit her Family for Christmas in 1999, and everything changed. A drunk driver hit her vehicle, killing her friend and causing the amputation of both legs, one above the knee, one below.

Miller kept a positive attitude from the day she woke up, and when she discovered adaptive sports (first wheelchair basketball), her recovery improved dramatically too. Naturally,  as an incredible athlete, she quickly rose to the top of her sport.

But Miller is a Soldier first, even since leaving the Army. Since 2008, she’s worked with more than 450 servicemembers at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, including Warrior Transition Unit Soldiers, to introduce them to the power of adaptive sports and reconditioning, specifically to sitting volleyball and wheelchair basketball.

She’s spent the last several months helping the Army sitting volleyball team prepare at  Warrior Transition Command training and selection clinics.

“It’s like going back to the time before my accident,” she said of surrounding herself with so many Soldiers during the training and competition, full of the camaraderie of her old Army unit.

She’s up for the challenge. “Warrior Games is on par with competing at the Paralympics for me. The biggest reward will be when we take home gold.”

Watch Kari Miller and the Army team defend their sitting volleyball gold live on ESPN on May 15, 8:30 pm/EST.

Think sitting volleyball’s a sleeper? Check out this 60-second Warrior Transition Command video to see the punishing sport for yourself.

Your Life Could Be Better Through Sports

Lt. Col. Danny Dudek emphasizes the power of adaptive sports and reconditioning in recovery and encourages all WTU Soldiers to try a new activity.

Lt. Col. Danny Dudek emphasizes the power of adaptive sports and reconditioning in recovery and encourages all WTU Soldiers to try a new activity.

By Sarah Bartnick, WTC Stratcom
“Your life could be better through sports.” That’s Lt. Col. Danny Dudek’s advice for all wounded, ill or injured Soldiers recovering at Warrior Transition Units.

And he knows what he’s talking about.  Not only did he command the Joint Base Lewis-McCord WTB after recovering from a spinal cord injury, he’s also defending three golds and a silver from his first Warrior Games.

As a WTB commander, Dudek saw success at the individual level when medical professionals focused on a “positive” profile.  “Instead of listing all the things a Soldier can’t do, some great doctors would list what the Soldiers can do,” he explained.  “For example, if my profile said I could go swimming, that swimming was good for my recovery, then my Squad Leader could make it my place of duty.”

“A lot of Soldiers aren’t willing to put themselves out there,” said Dudek. “Cadre and commanders can create an environment where Soldiers are willing to try, especially in small groups of five or less—epiphanies happen in small groups.”

Dudek encourages all WTU Soldiers to try an adaptive sport that’s best suited for their personality.  He competes in triathlons, skiing, and a variety of other sports throughout the year.  “Not everyone’s a daredevil like me,” he grinned as he leaned his wheelchair back into a wheelie.  “More exacting people like golf or shooting, but I like the element of danger.”

When he wrote the Comprehensive Transition Plan (CTP) policy and guidance, Dudek emphasized adaptive reconditioning and Career and Employment Readiness, “because they’re both essential building blocks to transition,” he said.  “They enhance your quality of life.”

Going into the Warrior Games, Dudek’s most excited about his parents’ support.  “Cycling is on Mother’s Day,” he added, “and this year, both my parents are coming.”

“This Chair Is Not Going to Define Me”

By Sarah Bartnick, WTC Stratcom

MAJ John Arbino refused to let a wheelchair define him after he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. He will compete in wheelchair racing and shooting at the 2013 Warrior Games.  (U.S. Army Photo by Patrick Cubel).

MAJ John Arbino refused to let a wheelchair define him after he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. He will compete in wheelchair racing and shooting at the 2013 Warrior Games. (U.S. Army Photo by Patrick Cubel)

Of all the people who influenced MAJ John Arbino during his recovery at the Fort Belvoir Warrior Transition Unit (WTU), one late-night talk with fellow Soldiers may have had the biggest impact. “There were four of us, all in wheelchairs,” said the career Soldier who was first diagnosed with progressive multiple sclerosis in 2009. “And we were all struggling with our identities. Who were we now?  Were we still the people we were before?”

After that conversation, Arbino went back to his room and parked his wheelchair in its usual spot.  The lifelong athlete started wondering what hobbies he could start, but he was frustrated that he’d only be able to enjoy stationary hobbies.  “I didn’t want to do puzzles,” he said, “I didn’t want to be the old guy in the commissary with a walker.”

The harsh hospital room light shone on his new blue electric wheelchair, his racing chair and his hand cycle.  The answer was clear: he was still MAJ John Arbino. There was still a lot he could do.

“Adaptive sports saved me,” he said. “It gave me a whole new outlook, a new way to redefine who I am.”

It wasn’t long before Arbino started participating in the Fort Belvoir adaptive reconditioning program and attended the Warrior Transition Command Warrior Games training and selection clinics. “I had no idea what I was getting into,” he said, “and wheelchair racing was the hardest sport I’ve ever tried.”

Arbino explained that the motion of pushing a racing chair is very different from a regular everyday wheelchair.  For an everyday chair, you grab the wheel at the top and push relatively gently, just enough momentum to keep you going at a walking speed.  With a racing chair, you grab the wheel toward the bottom and push with as much force as you can, since the races are usually sprints.

Arbino explained that most Soldiers start doing wheelies once they get comfortable in a regular wheelchair.  That doesn’t quite work with a racing chair, and you can tell a new racer as the one tipped over on the track.

“It happens to all the new guys,” Arbino laughed.  “We call it turtling, because you’re stuck looking up at the sky until someone tips you back up.  At the last clinic, when I should have had enough experience, but I was laughing so hard I flipped over twice in a row.  The coaches thought I’d hurt myself.”

“See, you’re hunched over with your knees at your chest,” he explained, “Your center of gravity is way back.”

After the selection clinic, he started training in a borrowed chair.  “I’d go up to the top floor of the parking garage and get in a few miles going back and forth,” he said.  And his face lit up when he explained that people would stop him and tell him how much he’d inspired them.

After more than 20 years as a Soldier, Arbino will retire with honor just two weeks after Warrior Games.

“I couldn’t have a better last mission,” he said, his face beaming with pride.  “The Warrior Games is almost my retirement ceremony.  As a Soldier, you’re always representing the Army, but as one of hundreds or one of thousands.  Representing the Army as one of 50 is special.”

Holding Eight Warrior Games Medals, MSG Rhoden Galloway Focuses on Team Spirit

MSG Rhoden Galloway (left) and SGT Se and Karpf, Warrior Transition Unit, compete at the cycling and swimming assessment and selection clinic at Fort Bliss, Texas.  With eight swimming medals to his credit, Galloway focuses on the team dynamic at this year’s Warrior Games. (U.S. Army Photo by Patrick Cubel)

MSG Rhoden Galloway (left) and SGT Se and Karpf, Warrior Transition Unit, compete at the cycling and swimming assessment and selection clinic at Fort Bliss, Texas. With eight swimming medals to his credit, Galloway focuses on the team dynamic at this year’s Warrior Games. (U.S. Army Photo by Patrick Cubel)

By Sarah Bartnick, WTC Stratcom
To MSG Rhoden Galloway, serving in the Army means serving as part of a team.

“Sometimes, it’s because we’ve suffered together,” he grinned as he reflected on the Army camaraderie he’d experienced throughout his Army career. “You spend nights laying on the earth in 20 or 30 degree weather half a world away from everyone you love, you become a team. On the mornings you’re feeling off, your buddies help boost your spirits. We suffer together, and we grow together.”

That didn’t change during his recovery at the Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC) Warrior Transition Battalion (WTB) at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

“At the WTB, everyone is in different phases of life, of recovery,” he explained. “It’s the strength of those who have been there that you look to when you’re recovering yourself. They’ve managed to get to the next phase, and you know you can too.”  He contributes to that team dynamic even after a Medical Review Board found him fit for duty, serving as the Noncommissioned Officer in Charge of operations and training at the BAMC WTB. Encouraging newly injured Soldiers is a top priority for him. In fact, this former medic plans to work with people facing physical limitations for years to come.

Galloway found a strong team spirit around the Army Warrior Games pool. “In swimming, we all have our own passion, but we make progress on our own together. There’s a synergistic approach to competition.”

In 2011, Galloway almost met his goal of four swimming golds. Almost. He won three. “I was almost more proud of the silver,” he laughed, “because it was the relay. It wasn’t about first, second, or third; it was about what we could accomplish as a team.”

Feeling the pressure to defend his stellar performance, he won four silvers in 2012. “I’m not just representing myself or BAMC anymore. I’m representing the Army as a whole,” he said. “I’ve become much more passionate about the team performance.”  This year, he’ll again compete in swimming and cycling.

The 2013 Warrior Games arrive just months before Galloway expects to retire and his teens leave for college. In this time of change in his personal life, Galloway said, “I hope to make a strong impression and represent the Army as a whole. It’s my job to pass the torch, to make an impact. I hope people will see disabled people who are so physically driven and capable and be inspired themselves.”

Recover, Find Employment, Ski Downhill on One Leg: One Soldier’s Transition Story

CSM Lawrence Wilson, United States Forces-Iraq, introduces the wounded warriors of Operation Proper Exit IV, on January 31, at the Al Faw Palace in Baghdad, Iraq. (Left to right) CPL Charles Dominguez, SGT  Jay Fain, SGT Omar Avila, SGT 1st Class Michael Schlitz, MSG Tom Carpenter, CPT Ferris Butler and CPT Lonnie Moore. (U.S. Army Photo by SGT. Lindsey Bradford, United States Forces-Iraq Public Affairs Office)

CSM Lawrence Wilson, United States Forces-Iraq, introduces the wounded warriors of Operation Proper Exit IV, on January 31, at the Al Faw Palace in Baghdad, Iraq. (Left to right) CPL Charles Dominguez, SGT Jay Fain, SGT Omar Avila, SGT 1st Class Michael Schlitz, MSG Tom Carpenter, CPT Ferris Butler and CPT Lonnie Moore. (U.S. Army Photo by SGT. Lindsey Bradford, United States Forces-Iraq Public Affairs Office)

By Emily D. Anderson, WTC Stratcom
For the first few months after being wounded by a rocket propelled grenade that amputated his leg, Army Veteran Lonnie Moore, program analyst for the U.S. Army Warrior Transition Command, found himself depressed and angry.

“For me, there was a very dark time in my life after I was wounded in Iraq for about the first 10 months,” said the Chula Vista, California, native. “I had some significant challenges accepting that my military career as an infantry officer was over as I knew it and then my fiancée called off our wedding.”

However, a staff member from Disabled Sports USA (DSUSA) invited him to attend their Ski Spectacular in December 2004, and despite Moore’s resistance, would not accept no for an answer.

“The first time I skied down the mountain, it was a spiritual moment that relieved every care and concern in the world from me,” said Moore. “I honestly don’t think I would be where I am today without DSUSA Ski Spectacular and the freedom and confidence it provided me.”

Moore, who medically retired from the Army in October 2005 as a captain, credits his skiing experience and his additional fondness of other adaptive reconditioning activities with finding a new direction in life, “Skiing provided me salvation from myself and gave me the new found confidence to seek employment, date, and eventually I married a physical therapist from Walter Reed and moved on with my life.”

“Adaptive sports gave me the mental edge when I was at my lowest,” he added. “It also increased my balance, stamina, and agility in order to lessen my time in rehabilitation.”

Moore has continued his passion of physical activities and has since added basketball which he uses a specialized prosthesis designed for Soldiers with above the knee amputations to return to combat, and cycling to his repertoire.

“It is tremendous all of the sports that can be done with a little bit of adaptation,” he said. “Adaptive sports are important and I highly encourage everyone to participate in whatever events they can to stimulate their recovery process.”

Moore also serves as chairman for the Wounded Warrior Project and Operation Homefront-Southern California, served as a board member on the National Council on Disability, served on the Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom Service Members and Veterans VA Advisory Committee and currently serves on the Department of Veterans Affairs Prosthetics and Special Disabilities Advisory Committee.

“Adaptive reconditioning allows me to maintain a healthy and less stressful lifestyle which hopefully leads to a longer life,” Moore said. “It also allows me to have a level of fitness and confidence to coach my boys’ basketball and baseball teams, go out on stroll with my wife, and live long enough to see my grandkids and hopefully great grandkids.”

TSA Offers Wounded Warriors Additional Services to Ease Screening Experience at Airports

Spc. Chris Anderson steps off a plane, January 11, 2013, at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Photo Credit: SSG Lindsey Kibler

Spc. Chris Anderson steps off a plane, January 11, 2013, at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Photo Credit: SSG Lindsey Kibler

By:  LuAnn Georgia, Warrior Transition Command Stratcom Division
As summer approaches and more people are traveling, clearing airport security can get more frustrating and time consuming for everyone, especially for severely disabled Soldiers or Veterans who need extra assistance.  The Transportation Security Association (TSA) recognizes their responsibility for ensuring that screening for our wounded Soldiers and Veterans is conducted with empathy and respect.  In order to address the concerns of disabled travelers and simplify their screening process, TSA implemented the Wounded Warrior/Military Severely Injured Joint Support Operations Center Program.

The program expedites the screening process for severely injured servicemembers of the U.S. Armed Forces at airports nationwide.  Eligible servicemembers are escorted to and through checkpoints.  In addition, TSA no longer requires them to remove hats, caps, light jackets, or shoes.  Screening information for travelers regarding specific disabilities such as: prosthetics, visual or hearing impairments, internal medical devices, travel with service dogs, use of wheelchairs, and more can be found on the TSA website.  It is worth noting that special accommodations do not apply to travel companions and they will still need to go through the standard screening process.

Other time saving options available for disabled travelers include completing a Disability Notification Card for Air Travel and enrolling in TSA Pre✓™, a prescreening program that allows the traveler to disclose personal information ahead of time.  Both of these options can help eliminate hassles at the airport and are especially valuable to the frequent traveler.  More information about these services can be found at www.TSA.gov.

In order to receive the expedited service offered by TSA, the wounded warrior or a travel companion must contact the Military Severely Injured Joint Services Operations Center via email at MSIJSOC@dhs.gov or by phone (888.262.2396) at least 24 hours prior to travel.  This lead time allows TSA time to coordinate travel support at each location and helps to ensure a quicker and more favorable experience at the airport.

Continuation on Active Duty Soldier Resumes Military Service Despite Injuries

By Emily D. Anderson, WTC Stratcom

SGT Ryan McIntosh, Warrior Transition Unit, Fort Sam Houston, Texas, participates in the sprinters warm-up session on day one of the third 2013 Warrior Games Army track and field assessment and selection clinic. The Continuation on Active Duty Soldier was selected to represent the Army at the 2013 Warrior Games. (U.S. Army Photo by Patrick Cubel)

SGT Ryan McIntosh, Warrior Transition Unit, Fort Sam Houston, Texas, participates in the sprinters warm-up session on day one of the third 2013 Warrior Games Army track and field assessment and selection clinic. The Continuation on Active Duty Soldier was selected to represent the Army at the 2013 Warrior Games. (U.S. Army Photo by Patrick Cubel)


In the beginning of 2010, SGT Ryan McIntosh was living his dream.

He was officially trained as a U.S. Army infantryman and married the woman he loved soon after completing basic training, but all of that changed months later.

“My brother served, and I knew that is what I wanted to do,” McIntosh said. “I had only been in the Army for seven months when I was injured.”

On December 8, 2010, while performing a routine orchard-clearing mission during a deployment to the Arghandab River Valley in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, McIntosh stepped on a pressure plate land mine resulting in the amputation of his right leg below the knee.

Three years later, McIntosh has not allowed his injuries to overshadow his life. He currently serves on Continuation on Active Duty, an opportunity for wounded, ill, or injured Soldiers to continue their service after being found physically unfit by a Physical Evaluation Board.

“I’m a right leg amputee, but I still wear the uniform,” McIntosh said. “People have told me I wouldn’t be able to do a lot of things, but I didn’t limit myself.”

McIntosh works as the adaptive sports noncommissioned officer in charge and the ceremonies noncommissioned officer in charge at the Warrior Transition Battalion at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

“I’m helping other Soldiers with their physical therapy by finding sports for them to get back into,” he said. “The Soldiers are pretty positive toward me because they see I’m still serving my country, and it motivates them.”

McIntosh had some advice for other wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers recovering at a Warrior Transition Unit and trying to decide if returning to duty is the right decision.

“You can’t take the decision lightly because there are some things that are not as easy once you get out, but there are also things that aren’t easy if you decide to stay in,” he said. “You have to decide what’s right for you and your Family.”

Occupation Therapy is an Essential Asset for Warriors in Transition

By Kimberly Jones, Fort Polk WTU Occupational Therapist and guest blogger

Kimberly Jones, the Fort Polk Warrior Transition Unit Occupational Therapist, explains how her role is an important part of the WTU team.

Kimberly Jones, the Fort Polk Warrior Transition Unit Occupational Therapist, explains how her role is an important part of the WTU team.

As the Fort Polk Warrior Transition Unit (WTU) occupational therapist, I am an integral member of the WTU team, and play an important role in every Soldier in transition’s recovery. Through constant interaction with the unit command, cadre, and the Soldier’s primary care manager and physical therapist, I am able to impart insight into the Soldier’s functional abilities and recovery timeline. I am also the primary provider for evaluation and treatment of upper extremity dysfunction, and perform an initial intake interview with every WTU Soldier within 14 days of admission to the Unit.

Additionally, my role includes performing non-clinical and administrative duties, including but not limited to: attending WTU meetings, goal setting classes, writing temporary profiles, consulting with the PT on relevant positive profiles,  assisting Soldiers with Special Compensation for Assistance in Activities of Daily Living (SCAADL) and Traumatic Service member’s Group Life Insurance (TSGLI) form completion in conjunction with the Primary Care Provider, issuing adaptive equipment to facilitate independence with Activities of Daily Living (ADL) and patient education on specific diagnoses and conditions.

Fort Polk is located on approximately 198,000 acres in west-central Louisiana, about 75 miles north of Lake Charles, Louisiana’s sixth largest city. The Fort Polk WTU (Warrior Transition Unit) is housed in the WTU company headquarters, a brand new building, expressly designed and constructed to meet the needs of Soldiers in transition and those who are tasked with assisting them.

Fort Polk was initially created as a base for the Louisiana Maneuvers in the 1940s. During the 1950s, it was home to the 1st Armored Division, and was utilized as a basic training installation during Vietnam War years. In the 1970s, and through the ’80s, it was home to the 5th Infantry Division (Mechanized), and the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment in the 1990s. Fort Polk is now home to the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC), the 4th Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, 115th Combat Support Hospital, 1st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, the 162nd Infantry Brigade, U.S. Army Garrison, and Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital.

Write a blog for WTC

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