After serving as the commanding general of the Warrior Transition Command (WTC) since 2010 I’m packing my ruck sack and moving to Korea where I will be the 2nd Infantry Division’s Assistant Division Commander – responsible for logistics and support. As I leave you all I feel trained, ready and uniquely qualified to serve with the 2d infantry Division. It’s been an honor and privilege to serve as the Assistant Surgeon General for Warrior Care and Transition, and as Commander, Warrior Transition Command. It has been rewarding on so many levels and that makes leaving here bittersweet.
Although I’ll soon be half a world away in Korea, I’ll never really be far. After all, I’m a WTC alumni now and my attention will always be on our wounded, ill and injured soldiers. I consider taking care of this population a sacred obligation. I believe that how we support these men and women says everything about who we are. It defines our future.
As I pen my last WTC Commander’s Drumbeat, I’m reminded that I’ve deployed and been in battle. I’ve heard my soldiers cry ‘medic’ and I’ve watched those medics rush to their side, putting themselves in harm’s way. This command, the Warrior Transition Command – is a testament to Army medicine. The people in Army medicine are committed and dedicated and professional. They do a lot of heavy lifting without any fanfare.
Today I passed Warrior Transition leadership to Brig. Gen. David J. Bishop. Brig. Gen. Bishop will be only the third commander of Warrior Transition Command. I know he is looking forward to being here and to serving this very special population. I came here as a colonel and followed great general officers who shaped and developed this command. Maj. Gen. Mike Tucker and Maj. Gen. Gary Cheek came before me and provided all the elements that helped me succeed. I hope Brig. Gen. Bishop will feel he is set up for success as well.
Serving and taking care of soldiers is what I want to do, and during my past two years as WTC commander, I’ve been able to assist soldiers and their families at the strategic, operational and tactical levels – in ways I never knew possible. I found out quickly the wounded, ill and injured soldiers assigned to the Warrior Transition Units (WTU) have complex problems that require complex solution sets.
It’s been an incredibly satisfying job. No day is the same and no job is the same at the WTC. We are constantly facing challenges and unique cases. During my tenure here the staff has been extraordinary. Since 2009 we have worked together to develop Army guidance and policy for 29 WTUs and nine Community Based Warrior Transition Units (CBWTU). Collectively, they provide care for more than 9,500 wounded, ill and injured soldiers and their families. We also have oversight of the Army Wounded Warrior Program (AW2). This is a truly special program. AW2 supports and advocates for the most severely wounded, ill and injured soldiers and veterans with a network of more than 200 AW2 advocates and additional support staff located at WTUs, Military Treatment Facilities, VA Polytrauma Centers, and other VA facilities.
Some of you may be surprised to know that since 2007, Army medicine has returned almost 23,000 soldiers back to the Army and back to the fight. Ladies and gentlemen — that is more than two Army divisions. We also have transitioned about 22,000 to veteran status. We’re a lean organization and we’re good and getting better every day.
There have been numerous accomplishments under my watch and I can’t take credit. I’ve had support for much of the heavy lifting from a dynamic team of professionals at WTC headquarters and at the WTUs and CBWTUs. From the top down to that essential young noncommissioned officer squad leader responsible for 10 soldiers and family members, each person is an integral ingredient to the success of WTC.
As WTC commander, it has been a privilege to visit the Army’s WTUs and CBWTUs. It has been a blessing to be in a position to reach out soldiers and families at Military Treatment Facilities, VA Polytrauma Centers and other VA facilities across the country.
I’m grateful to Army leadership for empowering me to solve problems and find solutions. I had no idea how important that would be before I came here. It’s important for that WTU soldier and his family to know that he’s going to be all right. It’s important for them to know we have their back. WTC is a very young and nascent command. I believe we have a moral imperative to keep the Warrior Transition Command alive.
Clearly this is the best team I’ve ever been a part of. We’ve got Army Soldiers, Department of the Army civilians and contractors all pulling together for our wounded, ill and injured soldiers, veterans and families. I’m the guy out front, but this is a total team effort. It has been a privilege of serve in the Army for almost 30 years and each assignment has always been fulfilling – none more than this.
Thank you – each of you – for your professional and personal support.
It is my honor to serve. God bless you.