Did You Know? Adaptive Reconditioning

By Amanda Koons, WTC Communications Division

Did you know that adaptive reconditioning contributes to a successful recovery for Soldiers, whether they are transitioning back to active duty or to civilian life? Adaptive reconditioning includes activities and sports that wounded ill and injured Soldiers participate in regularly to optimize their physical, cognitive and emotional well-being.

You may already know a lot about adaptive reconditioning. You may have even participated in one of WTC’s Warrior Games training and selection clinics.  In fact, adaptive sports is one of the most highly featured topics on the WTC blog with 111 posts, including coverage of Warrior Games since 2010. You can read past blog posts by clicking “Adaptive Sports” on the right hand side of the page.

What you may not know is how adaptive reconditioning plays an important role in the six domains of the Soldier’s Comprehensive Transition Plan (CTP). The CTP supports Soldiers with personalized goals in six areas: career, physical, emotional, spiritual, social and Family.  Adaptive reconditioning connects activities and sports with each of the six CTP domains. One adaptive reconditioning event at a WTU may positively support goals in different domains for different Soldiers. Let us know what you learned in the comments section below.

Career – Adaptive reconditioning supports career goals by helping Soldiers build the confidence and self-esteem necessary to develop their career. Adaptive reconditioning may also provide opportunities to network and meet people with shared knowledge and goals. Finally, adaptive reconditioning may open doors to internships, shadowing opportunities, certified educational courses and activities that assist with promotion points.

Physical – Adaptive reconditioning supports physical goals through physical reconditioning based on guidance from the Adaptive Reconditioning team and WTU physical therapist. Competition is available through the Warrior Games, Endeavour Games, Valor Games, National Wheelchair Games and many other high level competitive events.

Emotional – Adaptive reconditioning supports emotional goals by building self confidence and helping Soldiers heal emotionally. Activities such as fishing, horseback riding, music and art provide Soldiers with a calm arena to recover.

Spiritual – Adaptive reconditioning supports spiritual goals by assisting Soldiers in strengthening a set of beliefs, principles or values that sustain and provide resiliency to a person.

Social – Adaptive reconditioning supports social goals through team building, developing leisure skills and exploring new communities. Programs in wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball, water polo and track relays are great at team building.

Family – Adaptive reconditioning supports Family goals by building stronger Family bonds if Family members are able to participate and develop new skills that they can use as a Family group. Adaptive Reconditioning can introduce Soldiers and their Families to new activities or a new way to enjoy a past activity.

“Did You Know?” Series

Using your feedback, the WTC Communications Division identified five topics where wounded, ill and injured Soldiers, Families and Cadre want additional information, particularly around Warrior Care and Transition Program (WCTP) resources, benefits and policies that impact their recovery and transition. We’ll post one blog per week on these five topics throughout our “Did You Know?” blog series during Warrior Care Month:

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

2)   Community Support Network

3)   Internships

4)   Adaptive Reconditioning

5)   Transition Coordinators


Is there another topic you want us to cover in the future? Want to share your adaptive reconditioning story? Post a comment here or email us at usarmy.pentagon.medcom-wtc.mbx.strategic-communications@mail.mil.

AW2 Soldier Credits Comprehensive Transition Plan for Helping Him Through His Recovery Process

By Emily Anderson, WTC Stratcom

AW2 Soldier and Operation Warfighter Intern 1LT Dana Summons recently joined the WTC adaptive reconditioning branch. He will help other wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers add physical activities in their journey to recovery.

Recently I had the pleasure of speaking with AW2 Soldier and Operation Warfighter Intern 1LT Dana Summons who recently started working at the Warrior Transition Command in the adaptive reconditioning branch. He has 18 years of military service and takes full advantage of the different opportunities made available. I’m inspired by his positivity and courage. Most of all, I wanted to know why Summons feels it is important to share his story.

“The Army has given and invested so much in training me,” Summons said. “I currently have a bachelor’s degree in arts and history and am also working to complete an associate’s degree in project management.”

During our conversation, he credited the six domains of the Comprehensive Transition Plan  in helping with his journey to recovery. The Comprehensive Transition Plan is a systematic framework that allows wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers to customize their recovery plan across six domains—career, physical, emotional, social, family and spiritual.

“I can clearly see how important the six domains are in my life,” Summons said. “For example, working at my internship has been therapeutic for me. It has helped with my physical domain because I have to get back and forth on the metro, but also the social [domain], because I’m interacting with individuals again.”

On October 4, 2010, while deployed to Kandahar with the 101st Airborne, 3rd Brigade, Summons stepped on a dismounted, pressure-plated Improvised Explosive Device. The blast threw him 10 feet into the air.

“Smoke was everywhere, my ears were ringing, and I heard someone yelling ‘the LT’s been hit, the LT’s been hit,’ Summons said. “I knew there was only one other LT there, and I saw her running around, checking on her Soldiers.”

“As the smoke cleared, I turned my head to look at my right shoulder, and that’s when I saw my foot there. My left leg was across my chest,” Summons added. “All I could think was, oh boy, his is really going to hurt.”

A 19-year-old medic told the squad leader to grasp the artery in Summons’s right arm where shrapnel had embedded into his shoulder.

“If the medic had not known to do this, I would have lost my arm,” Summons said. “I credit him with saving my arm, and my life.”

Two years and 14 surgeries later, Summons shares his positive message and his faith to help other wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers.

“When I was healing and going through my recovery process, my mental state was at the lowest point. I had to readjust, and I didn’t know how to transition to the new normal,” he said. “I have always believed in a spiritual being, but going through this really strengthened my faith.”

“I want others to know that life goes on, and it’s possible to fulfill hopes and dreams even with physical limitations,” Summons added. “Someone can always benefit from your story.”

Summons’ Operation Warfighter (OWF)  internship landed him in the Warrior Transition Command adaptive reconditioning branch. This office is responsible for aiding in the recovery of our wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers by reconditioning their physical, emotional, mental, and cognitive states through adaptive activities.

“It’s great to have Soldiers who have gone through similar life changes working at our organization,” said LTC Keith Williams, WTC adaptive reconditioning branch chief. “We can’t expect other organizations to hire our wounded, ill, and injured if we are not willing to do the same.”

“LT Summons is doing a fantastic job so far, and I look forward to the insight he can give us to better help our population,” Williams added.

While Summons is still waiting for a final decision to see if he is able to continue his military career, or is found unable to continue, he said he wants others going through similar situations to learn from his experience.

“I had to learn how to walk again, but I didn’t let that stop me. I mean, look at me now. It’s two years later and I’m living a very happy life,” Summons said.

Research Key for Soldiers Finding Employment

By Emily Anderson, WTC Stratcom

As employment for our wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers continues to be an important focus for Army leadership, these Soldiers and Veterans need to do their part by researching their chosen career field with resources available to assist with the job hunt.

It’s important that Soldiers start the Army Career and Alumni Program process as early as possible and take Transition Assistance Program workshops seriously. Soldiers who are serious about transitioning successfully into a civilian job or career should do the research and go the extra mile.

This can be a difficult choice for Soldiers who want to return to duty versus leave the military. However, they should have a plan b such as going to college or getting an extra certification. Employment experts also encourage Soldiers to consider their hobbies when considering job opportunities. What they enjoy doing  is as important as their knowledge, skills, and professional abilities. 

Experts also point out that Soldiers should make sure what they want to do will provide financially for their Family and take into consideration the cost of living and the salaries of different geographic locations. They recommend that Soldiers talk to their employment and education counselors and come in with a well thought-out plan and a willingness to try something new. 

There are several career and education resources available. Soldiers and Veterans looking for additional assistance can visit:

Army Career & Alumni Program (ACAP) – ACAP helps Soldiers transitioning from military service make informed career decisions through benefits counseling and employment assistance. ACAP is responsible for delivering both transition assistance and employment assistance services. While the ACAP Center traditionally has been the principal service provider for these services, now those transitioning have the option to use the ACAP website to receive services from any location with Internet capability 24/7.  https://www.acap.army.mil 

Department of Labor – Each state’s Department of Labor employs Disabled Veterans Outreach Program (DVOP) representatives and Local Veterans Employment (LVER) Representatives who work in the one Stop Career Centers. To find your local DVOP/LVER use the DVOP/LVER locator website. http://dvoplverlocator.nvti.ucdenver.edu

Hero 2 Hired – Hero2Hired (H2H) was created to make it easy for servicemembers to connect to and find jobs with military-friendly companies. H2H also offers career exploration tools, military-to-civilian skills translations, education and training resources, as well as a mobile app. Support for H2H is provided through the Department of Defense’s Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program. https://h2h.jobs

U.S. Army Warrior Transition Command – Serves as the lead proponent for the U.S. Army’s Warrior Care and Transition Program. WTC ensures that non-clinical processes and programs that support wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers are integrated and optimized throughout the Army, and supports the Army’s commitment to the rehabilitation and successful transition of wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers back to active duty or to Veteran status. http://www.wtc.army.mil/

Duty with Fort Hood WTB – An Incredible Journey for Former Commander

U.S. Army MAJ Jason Good of the Fort Hood Warrior Transition Brigade.

By Major Jason “Jay” Good, Fort Hood Warrior Transition Brigade
I am honored to recognize Warrior Care Month by sharing a snapshot of my experience as cadre in a Warrior Transition Unit. I had the distinct privilege of working for the Fort Hood Warrior Transition Brigade (WTB) since January of 2008 when I was first activated as an Army reservist.

What an amazing journey and life-changing trek! Since I started here, I commanded more than 700 Soldiers in transition, and served with numerous cadre and civilian staff members. It’s been both an honor and a privilege.

I knew within a month of arriving at this newly formed organization that this assignment was going to be special.

I began my journey here as a company commander. From there, I moved on to battalion executive officer, and later, to battalion commander. In 2011, I stood up our pilot remote care program, and here I am in 2012, the Brigade S3—the last duty assignment of my Army career.

I developed personal relationships with everyone, and truly became a life coach to those that I served. With that, I had to expose myself in a way that allowed others to see me as a human, a man behind the uniform with similar life challenges.

I shared my own stories of failures and accomplishments, mental and physical battles, and the internal desire to overcome and achieve on the path to recovery. Whatever medical or personal issue we faced, I had to be part of the treatment plan, which was a real commitment to the journey, not just in words, but in a partnership that could be visualized through action. Embracing this commitment allowed me to see my role in a different light.

During this five-year journey, I shed many tears of sorrow from the countless memorials of Soldiers lives taken too early. Whether it was terminal cancer, addiction, or sudden tragedy, the impact was the same. My heart ached for the staff, friends and Family left behind who worked diligently as a team to surround the Soldier with “care and compassion.”

I also shared in many personal moments of joy, watching Soldiers in transition accomplish something great through the belief that anything is possible on the way to healing. This journey allowed me to be a part of the inaugural Warrior Games, bike over 400 miles with Ride 2 Recovery, participate in the Bataan Memorial Death March, build a relationship with the USO, forge a partnership with our community adaptive sports, develop resiliency opportunities for cadre, and become a role model for my peers.

As I pack my bags and move on to retirement, I will be forever thankful that I was given the privilege to serve those in need who committed themselves to a greater cause.

As my military journey ends and I, too, transitioning, will have many memories of my time with the WTB. I gained lifelong friends in the Fort Hood Warrior Transition Brigade by simply being myself and sharing in the human spirit.

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 Care Month Concludes with Ribbon-Cutting of Screaming Eagle Medical Home

By: Jim Wenzel, STRATCOM

November has come to a close and with it so does Army Warrior Care Month. As the action officer responsible for facilitating the month’s activities across the Army and promoting the theme ‘Army Strong–Family Strong: caring for warriors by supporting Soldier Families’, I feel there can be no more fitting conclusion to the month than the ribbon-cutting of the first community-based primary care clinic at Fort Campbell on November 30th. The Surgeon General of the Army, LTG Eric B. Schoomaker, was present at the event to inaugurate a dramatic shift in the way Army Medicine treats the medical needs of our Soldiers’ Families.

Breaking the tradition of drawing Families to on-base Military Treatment Facilities (MTFs) for care, the Screaming Eagle Medical Home is the first of 17 soon-to-be constructed clinics located within the community. These new clinics are designed–much like Soldier Family Assistance Centers (SFAC) are for providing Warriors in Transition and their Families information and support services–to be a one-stop-shop for Family medical needs.

The accessibility and value these clinics provide cannot be overstated for spouses and children, who might otherwise spend the whole day traveling to an Army Hospital on post. The community-based primary health clinics are an innovation in expressing the mindset of Army leaders concerning Army Families.

Families provide a level of comfort, care, and support to Soldiers that cannot be found elsewhere. This support is especially critical during times of stress such as deployment and recovery from injury. By enhancing medical and warrior care programs designed to include a Soldier’s Family and meeting critical support needs of these individuals, Army leaders seek to improve the Soldier’s resiliency and ability to focus on the Army’s mission.  Although Army Warrior Care Month is over, the Army’s mission to strengthen Army Families by expanding its programs and policies to support them continues to march on.

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Warrior Care Month–It’s All About Families

By COL Greg Gadson, AW2 Director

November is an important month for the military. On Veterans Day, we honored all who have defended our country and fought for our freedom. On Thanksgiving, we will express gratitude for the blessings in our lives. And throughout the month, we honor the servicemembers who have become wounded, ill, or injured and their Families as part of Warrior Care Month.

Warrior Care Month is a special time to acknowledge wounded warriors, their Families, and caregivers. This year’s theme, “Army Strong—Family Strong: caring for wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers by supporting their Families and caregivers” reminds us that Families provide a source of stability and strength for every wounded Soldier.

Just like all Army Families, the Families of wounded Soldiers involve a number of different people. It’s every combination of parents, spouses, children, aunts and uncles, grandparents, friends, and neighbors who do the heavy lifting and support the wounded Soldier. During Warrior Care Month, we honor those who travel to the Soldier’s bedside just as much as we honor those who stay home and keep the Family running – paying the bills, making sure the children get to school. And for most AW2 Families, it’s a long journey that involves surgery after surgery, avoiding the Soldier’s triggers, and learning how to care for the injuries for months, years, after the Soldier leaves the hospital. Loving a wounded Soldier is a whole new way of life.

I’ve had the privilege of meeting so many AW2 Families and caregivers during my own recovery and now as AW2 Director. I’m always struck by their tenacity and sincerity. To each one of you, I encourage you to keep fighting for your AW2 Soldier, keep holding his/her hand, and keep believing that your Family will come out of these challenges stronger than you ever imagined.

Soldiers and Families from WTB-Europe Discover Timeless Lessons in Spiritual Strength

By Jim Wenzel, WTC Stratcom

Warriors and their Families from the Warrior Transition Battalion–Europe (WTB-E) cross the Trevere River in front of the Castel Sant' Angelo in Rome, Italy (Photo courtesy of Barbara Romano).

In the summer of 1995, I had the opportunity to cruise the Mediterranean Sea with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit aboard the USS Pensacola–a very old amphibious ship with the most endearing quality of making several unscheduled stops at ports in France, Italy, and Spain to conduct repairs and maintenance.  One of the most memorable parts of the voyage was a trip to Rome organized by the Pensacola’s chaplain.

Now as an action officer assisting in the planning of Army Warrior Care Month fifteen years later, it is a pleasure to experience the journey to Rome through the eyes of Soldiers and Family members of Warrior Transition Battalion–Europe (WTB-E).  Not simply a boondoggle for pictures and souvenirs, the group of almost 50 warriors and Family members used the opportunity to visit historical sites that bear witness to the powerful and strengthening effect of faith when faced with difficult circumstances.

The development of spiritual strength and resiliency is a powerful asset for wounded warriors as they heal, develop new capabilities, and push past the status quo of their current circumstances.  SPC Locke and SPC Mendoza, both WTB-E Soldiers, had some very powerful words about their trip and how it reshaped their understanding of the WTU and their mission.  Read more about their thoughts from the WTB-E press release here.

Honoring Families and Caregivers During Warrior Care Month

By CSM Benjamin H. S. Scott, Jr., WTC Command Sergeant Major

WTC Command Sergeant Major Scott

CSM Benjamin Scott Jr. has personally witnessed the substantial positive impact Families and caregivers place on wounded warriors during their recovery and transition.

November is Warrior Care Month, and this year’s theme is “Army Strong–Family Strong: caring for wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers by supporting their Families and caregivers.” 

For Warriors in Transition (WTs), Families and Caregivers provide unparalleled support during a challenging time.  They offer a sense of normalcy, of the familiar.  They’re a shoulder to lean on and often the voice of reason when the WT needs to talk through difficult decisions. 

Before joining WTC, I served at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, where I worked with Soldiers who had just been medevaced from theater.  And I met the spouses, parents, and other caregivers who had just flown halfway around the world, often on a red-eye flight, fearing the worst, leaving their children with relatives or friends.  As I watched them, I saw the strength they mustered to encourage their Soldiers–a deep, enduring sense of fortitude that many of them didn’t know they had. 

At WTUs, Families and caregivers continue to play an integral role in each WT’s recovery.  You attend medical appointments, keep your WT on schedule, and participate in CTP scrimmages.  And you make incredible sacrifices–sometimes living away from the rest of your Families and putting your own careers on hold.  And for all you do to take care of your Soldier, you must take care of yourselves, too.  Please utilize the resources available to you, the counseling services, the administrative resources at the SFAC, and all of the other programs the Army has in place.  Speak up to your WT’s Squad Leader if there’s something you need.

I also want to speak to the children of WTs.  I know this can be scary and challenging, when your parent is hurt.  You’ve probably got a lot of questions and wonder when your life will get back to normal.  These reactions are completely understandable, and I hope you’ll ask your questions and tell your parents how you feel.  I also encourage you to embrace your Family’s “new normal” – life may be somewhat different than before your mom or dad was injured, but things will get better, and your Family will keep moving forward.

To all the Families and caregivers, I won’t say I know what you’re going through, because I don’t.  But I do know that you’re standing tall when you feel like your world is falling apart.  YOU are the unsung heroes of today’s conflicts.  The Army, the nation can never fully repay you for your sacrifices.  The Army understands that the strength of the Soldier starts with the Family, and that may never be more apparent than when the Soldier is injured.  During Warrior Care Month, and throughout the year, I commend you for all you do.

Write a blog for WTC

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