Commander’s Drumbeat: Fort Campbell’s “Warrior Leaders”

By BG Darryl A. Williams, WTC Commander

BG Darryl A. Williams

I’ve been traveling to WTUs a lot over the last few weeks—most recently to Fort Knox and Fort Campbell. It’s important for people to understand what’s going on at these units, especially the people there. So I’m going to start blogging every time I visit a WTU, and I encourage you to read these posts to learn more about the people who make up the Army’s Warrior Care and Transition Program.

I’ll start with my recent trip to the Fort Campbell Warrior Transition Battalion (WTB). They’re doing a lot of things right, especially the team they’ve built. The “warrior leaders”—that’s what they call WTU cadre at Fort Campbell—are incredible. They’ve got an unrelenting commitment to the 573 wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers recovering at the Fort Campbell WTB. They’re postured to provide comprehensive support to the Soldiers already assigned to the WTB and those returning from deployments who may require six months or more of complex medical care.

The WTB leadership was impressive. I especially want to congratulate LTC Christopher Jarvis, the WTB Commander, COL John Cook, the Commander of Blanchfield Army Community Hospital, and CSM Cody Mosier, the Command Sergeant Major who recruited several Soldiers from the Tennessee National Guard to serve as WTB cadre. And even though the leadership will be transitioning over the next several weeks, these leaders laid solid groundwork for success for those who follow.

In my strategic vision for the Warrior Care and Transition Program, I have four pillars: set the team, set the environment, set the program, and tell the story.

The folks here at Campbell have done an excellent job setting the team. The “warrior leaders” here demonstrated an unrelenting commitment to the Soldiers they serve. They’re passionate about helping Soldiers recover and transition and move forward with their lives. I was particularly excited by the nurses, AW2 Advocates, and liaisons from the Department of Veterans Affairs, who all work together to support the wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers. And there were a few people who particularly excited me, including:

  • SSG Jason D. Jacobs, who serves as a squad leader. On top of his squad leader duties, he leads adaptive swimming sessions for 300 Warriors in Transition, three times a week, to help them understand their abilities and how much they can still accomplish.
  • SPC Bryan Camacho, a COAD Soldier who works at the SFAC. SPC Camacho made it his personal mission to mentor Warriors in Transition who use wheelchairs—to make sure they understand how much they can still accomplish.
  • Ms. Ronette Bailey, a licensed clinical social worker whose infectious laugh and enthusiasm brightened the days of everyone she met, including the wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers and Families that she counsels throughout the recovery and transition process.

I wish there was room to list all the incredible people I met on this trip, and to tell you more about the good things happening at Fort Campbell. And Campbell isn’t alone. There are dynamic teams at all 29 WTUs and 9 CBWTUs, and I can’t wait to meet the rest of them. I encourage you to check back to the blog soon to read about my visits to other WTUs and the people who are making a difference there.

 

Army Homefront Fund

By BG Darryl A. Williams, WTC Commander

BG Darryl A. Williams

This morning I had the privilege along with key senior Army leaders to attend the kick-off of the Army Homefront Fund. The event was held at the Ronald Reagan Building, Washington, DC. As part of the ceremony I signed a memorandum of understanding recognizing the Army Homefront Fund—a nonprofit organization—created to support Soldiers who are wounded, become ill, or are injured while serving in a combat zone and their Families.

I want to acknowledge GEN Dennis Reimer, former Army chief of staff and now director of the Resource Advisory Committee for the Army Homefront Fund. Through the Association of the United States Army, Army Emergency Relief, and now the Army Homefront Fund, he continues his commitment to the Army he served most of his life. His contributions to Soldiers are unequalled.

As you all know, I am always proud of and humbled by the resiliency and strength of our wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers and their Families. I’m also committed to helping them in times of financial crisis in the same way I’m committed to ensuring they have a smooth transition back to their units or as they depart military service. The Army Homefront Fund will offer support to Soldiers and their Families when financial issues occur whether it is for rent, utilities, insurance, or baby items.

Like other similar support organizations, Army Homefront Fund is a nonprofit agency. Agreements like this help bring together the Army and many of the outstanding not-for-profit groups who stand shoulder-to-shoulder with us each day for the benefit of Soldiers and their Families. The announcement of the Army Homefront Fund and its breadth shows that no organization can do it all. Having an organization with established processes and linkages can help to benefit our Soldiers and their Families. With this coalition of the willing, we will be able to provide for our Soldiers better than any of us can do alone.

I’m grateful each day that I have the opportunity to support our wounded, ill, and injured warriors and thankful for the generosity of the many individuals and organizations who continually reach out to the brave men and women who wear the uniform of the United States Army in recognition of the sacrifices they have made to secure freedom and democracy for this great nation of ours and for our friends and allies around the world.

For more information about the Army Homefront Fund, visit http://www.armyhomefrontfund.org or visit the following link for other supporting programs, https://www.nationalresourcedirectory.gov/.

Editor’s Note: The appearance of external hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the United States Department of Defense of the linked websites, or the information, products or services contained therein. For other than authorized activities such as military exchanges and Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) sites, the United States Department of Defense does not exercise any editorial control over the information you may find at these locations. All links are provided consistent with the mission of this website.

Home of the Brave

By BG Darryl A. Williams, WTC Commander

Several times last week, Soldiers and Veterans competing at the 2011 Warrior Games told me, “I am doing this for the ones that did not make it home. I am doing what they can no longer do.”

It’s not easy to lose a teammate or a loved one—even when done in sacrifice to a greater cause.  For those of us who have served and lost a battle buddy, that loss is a permanent shadow on all we do. Not necessarily a darkness, but rather a new layer to who we are. We carry them with us—some quietly, some with an arm band, and some through stretch goals. When one sergeant first class competed for the title of Ultimate Champion, I knew it was not just his shadow from the sun on the track field, but several others who died in combat which he now carries with him.

As I listened to stories about the fallen and watched those acting in memorial to them at Warrior Games, I could not help but think of the quote by Elmer Davis, a news reporter and Director of the US Office of War Information during World War II: “This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.”

As we all enjoy a long Memorial Day weekend, I hope we each take a few minutes to honor the brave heroes of our country, and thank their loved loves.

WTC Commander Listens to Local Dallas Wounded Warriors Talk About Life Post-Injury

By Alan Morales, WTC Stratcom

(left to right) WTC Commander BG Darryl A. Williams, AW2 Director COL Greg Gadson, and AW2 Sergeant Major SGM Robert Gallagher listen to participant questions at the 2011 AW2 Annual Training Conference.

Yesterday morning, I witnessed BG Darryl A. Williams give a keynote speech to a group of Army Wounded Warrior Program (AW2) Advocates and other guests in Dallas, TX. During this speech he motivated and energized staff to continue excelling in their efforts to better serve the Army’s wounded, ill, and injured. However, it was only a few moments after his speech that I witnessed BG Williams enter a much a smaller room, take the microphone off, and take a seat at a table with seven wounded warriors from the local Dallas area. This time around, BG Williams was the one doing the listening.

The luncheon took place on day two of the 2011 AW2 Advocate Annual Training–an event where 170+ Advocates nationwide have convened to train and collaborate to better provide individualized support to the Army’s severely wounded, ill, and injured. Making a stop to address the attendees, BG Williams made it a priority to also take the opportunity to meet local wounded warriors.

During the luncheon, BG Williams, along with AW2 Director COL Greg Gadson and AW2 Sergeant Major SGM Robert Gallagher, listened to wounded warriors explain various challenges, such as Social Security benefits claims, difficulties in continuing on active duty, and the difficulties involved with civilian integration. The discussion served as a mechanism for BG Williams to better understand both new and persistent issues that face the wounded warrior population.

After hours of taking notes and posing questions to his guests, BG Williams concluded the luncheon by sharing with the table a few words that resonated with the group. BG Williams said, “I regularly speak to officials at the Department of Defense, Department of the Army, Congress, and various others in Washington. I’m here to tell you that it’s not worth a can of beans unless I connect with the Soldier to understand how what I do in Washington affects him or her.”

Feedback isn’t limited to the walls of a conference room. It continues in the virtual world. Share with us your thoughts about the Army’s warrior care programs. Whether you are in a Warrior Transition Unit, Community-Based Warrior Transition Unit, or a Veteran, share with us your thoughts by posting a comment below.

AW2 Advocates Set a Benchmark of Excellence

By BG Darryl A. Williams, WTC Commander

WTC Commander BG Darryl A. Williams gives speech to AW2 Advocates and returns inspired with ways to improve how WTC positively affects Warriors in Transition.

This morning, I had the privilege of addressing the AW2 staff at their annual training conference. They’re a great group of people, and I want to make sure you understand this dynamic team. A lot of them are Veterans themselves, retired NCOs and officers. Quite a few are wounded warriors or the Family or caregiver of someone who was wounded. Others have a VA or social work background.

There are more than 170 Advocates, and they’re at installations and VA facilities all across the country. And each one brings a sense of duty and of honor to the mission of supporting severely wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers, Veterans, and Families. And here, it’s a duty of compassion.

They support Soldiers through a wide range of issues. When the Soldier is first injured, they work with them in the hospitals to make sure the Soldier is all set on housing, childcare, orders, and other issues. They stay with the Soldier through the boards and help him/her understand that complex process. A process we’re working to streamline, by the way.

And they continue to support wounded warriors when they leave the WTUs, either back to the force or into Veteran status, as they look for jobs or go back to school and move on with their lives. They’re a solid support system that AW2 Veterans can call whenever they need the Army’s assistance.

I’m impressed with this group of people. I knew the AW2 Advocates were a force to be reckoned with, and I’m even more impressed with them after today. They gave me a wealth of ideas and suggestions to make things better for the AW2 population, and I’m going to go back, evaluate their suggestions, and actively look into ways we can enhance the support we provide AW2 Soldiers, Veterans, and their Families.

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