BG Cheek Interview with C-SPAN

WTC Commander BG Gary Cheek appeared on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal this morning to discuss warrior care. He answered questions live from callers phoning in from across the country. Many Veterans and Family members called in with questions and comments for BG Cheek addressing issues ranging from collaboration with the Department of Veterans Affairs to the role adaptive sports play for wounded warriors. You can watch his entire interview here.

Welcome to the WTC

BG Cheek

BG Cheek

By BG Gary Cheek

As the commander of the Warrior Transition Command (WTC), I’m honored to be given the opportunity to serve Soldiers and Families in this important capacity. The fact that I’m not a medical professional—instead I’m a career Field Artillery officer—is evidence that the Army sees the care and support of wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers not as just a medical responsibility, but as an overall Army responsibility.

The establishment of the WTC will better enable the Army to support you by integrating the Warrior Care and Transition Office (WCTO), the Warrior Transition Office (WTO), and the Army Wounded Warrior Program (AW2) into one command to serve as the Army’s organizational focal point for Army warrior care.

This marks a major milestone in transforming the way the Army delivers outpatient care and services—one that provides focused leadership for Soldiers and comprehensive program management across the Army and beyond. This transformation began with the establishment of the Army Wounded Warrior Program (AW2) in April of 2004 and continued in April of 2007 with the creation of 30+ Warrior Transition Units (WTUs) at major Army installations worldwide and Community-Based Warrior Transition Units (CBWTUs) located regionally around the U.S.

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Blogging about Army Warrior Care Month

The Army has designated November as Warrior Care Month to inform wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers, Veterans, and their Families about the transition assistance programs available to them in the U.S. Army. Throughout the month, the Warrior Transition Command has been conducting a variety of local activities through AW2 and the Warrior Transition Units (WTUs) to encourage wounded warriors to take advantage of opportunities that promote successful transition back to duty or into civilian life.

On the American Forces Press Service’s (AFPS) Family Matters Blog, Elaine Wilson offered her perspective on the resiliency of Army wounded warriors:

The Army is using this opportunity to inform wounded, ill and injured soldiers and their families about transition assistance programs. The effort is being led by the Army’s Warrior Transition Command.

I’ve met countless wounded warriors and never cease to be in awe of their strength and resilience. I’m thrilled to see that the Army is going the extra mile to ease the transition process, whether it’s back to service or to the civilian work force, for these soldiers and their families.

Elaine blogged about one such Soldier that she met during a recent visit to Walter Reed Army Medical Center. During her visit, she had the pleasure of meeting AW2 Soldier SGT Robert Canine and his wife, Jennifer. SGT Canine lost his legs when an explosively formed projectile tore through his Humvee during his third deployment in Iraq. Elaine focuses her entry on the how the strength of SGT Canine’s marriage has aided in his rehabilitation:

While tough, the couple said they can weather any storm as long as they do it together.

The couple said it’s vital to stay positive and supportive of each other.

“Listen to what they have to say,” Jennifer said, referring to the wounded warrior. “You’re going to have your frustrated moments, but hopefully you’ll have your family there to take small breaks. They’re going to have their ups and downs. Just stay positive.”

“They’ll be some rough patches, but you have to keep moving forward,” Robert added. “If you think about woe is me, it will just take longer to recover. Take it day by day.”

To read the rest of this wonderful entry, please click here to visit the Family Matters Blog. Elaine plans to continue to follow SGT Canine and his wife with periodic updates on how they are doing, so be sure to check back often.

In addition to the blog entries from Elaine Wilson and the AFPS Family Matters Blog, the Ledger-Enquirer in Columbus, GA also featured an article about Army Warrior Care Month. In the article, the Ledger-Enquirer showcases the Warrior Care Month activities at Fort Benning:

“It’s specifically designed to build teamwork amongst soldiers that are not in a collective unit environment,” said Lt. Col. Sean Mulcahey, commander of the Warrior Transition Battalion.

The Commander’s Cup consists of 15 events including a seated basketball game, water polo and volleyball matches, a Nintendo Wii video game tournament and a cooking competition.

Prior to digging in to a hearty meal of turkey and all the trimmings, WTB soldiers went head to head Wednesday morning in an Iron Chef-like cook off. Maj. William Kepley’s team, B Company, 5th Platoon, beat out the other platoons in the battalion in the “taste” category for whipping up a stir fry.

“For the folks that are here for an extended period of time for whatever’s wrong with them it’s good,” Kepley said of events like the Commander’s Cup and Wednesday’s turkey lunch. “It gets your mind off of the hospital and doctors all daylong every day.”

To learn more about the Army’s Warrior Care Month, click here to visit the special page set up by the Warrior Transition Command.

BG Cheek attends CODE Launch Event

BG Cheek, the Commander of the Warrior Transition Command, attended the launch event for Call of Duty Endowment (CODE) last week. CODE is a new endowment fund created by Activision Blizzard, which aims to combat unemployment among Veterans. Activision Blizzard created the endowment organization with a commitment to raise millions of dollars to help raise awareness of Veterans unemployment and directly fund organizations that support Veterans transitioning to the civilian workforce.

In a press release, Activision Blizzard stated that it created the endowment after recognizing that its Call of Duty Modern Warfare video game series is extremely popular among troops, and that it wanted to give back to servicemembers by using proceeds from the sale of an upcoming game to help Veterans find employment. The organization has an advisory board composed of Veterans representing various branches of the military and the board will help identify organizations that will receive grants to raise awareness of the issue.

BG Cheek attended the launch event for the organization and stressed the need to help Veterans transitioning from the service with employment opportunities according to the press release:

“I could make the case that based upon the service and sacrifice of our Veterans that American employers have their own call of duty to ensure they have the opportunity for gainful employment and a viable career,” Cheek said. “Our soldiers have a lot to offer: integrity, discipline, teamwork, and personal sacrifice for a greater good. I can think of no stronger candidates for any positions employers might be looking to fill. These brave men and women willingly put their lives on the line to protect the blessings of liberty enjoyed by every business in this great country of ours.”

CODE’s first grant of $125,000 was awarded to the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), which will be used by the organization to help underwrite the cost of a new PVA Vocational Rehabilitation Services Center in Boston, MA.

Click here to visit the new CODE Web site to learn more about this organization.

The appearance of external hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the United States Department of Defense of the linked web sites, 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.

BG Cheek attends CODE Launch Event

BG Cheek, the Commander of the Warrior Transition Command, attended the launch event for Call of Duty Endowment (CODE) last week. CODE is a new endowment fund created by Activision Blizzard, which aims to combat unemployment among Veterans. Activision Blizzard created the endowment organization with a commitment to raise millions of dollars to help raise awareness of Veterans unemployment and directly fund organizations that support Veterans transitioning to the civilian workforce.

In a press release, Activision Blizzard stated that it created the endowment after recognizing that its Call of Duty Modern Warfare video game series is extremely popular among troops, and that it wanted to give back to servicemembers by using proceeds from the sale of an upcoming game to help Veterans find employment. The organization has an advisory board composed of Veterans representing various branches of the military and the board will help identify organizations that will receive grants to raise awareness of the issue.

BG Cheek attended the launch event for the organization and stressed the need to help Veterans transitioning from the service with employment opportunities according to the press release:

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SGM Lac on Veterans Day

By SGM Ly Lac, Warrior Transition Command

Veterans Day provides Americans with an opportunity to remember and honor our fellow citizens who have proudly served and continue to serve our country in the armed forces. With our military fighting wars in two countries, Veterans Day is a time for many to thank the brave men and women currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. For others, this day is about remembering the Soldiers and Veterans that have perished or served in other conflicts in defense of our freedom.

On this Veterans Day we somberly remember the Soldiers and civilians who were killed in the senseless act of violence that occurred last week at Fort Hood. We also honor those wounded and injured in that heinous attack. In particular, we honor Fort Hood Police Sgt. Kimberly Munley, a civilian police officer who was wounded when she courageously defended the Soldiers and civilians at the Soldier Readiness Center by stopping the attacker. Many of the Soldiers wounded in that attack will become Soldiers in our Warrior Transition Units (WTUs) and the U.S. Army Wounded Warrior Program (AW2).

November is also the Army’s Warrior Care Month, which aims to honor our wounded warriors and increase awareness of the Army’s Warrior Care and Transition Program. As the SGM of the Warrior Transition Command, I am humbled to know that our command will be involved in the rehabilitation of many of these heroic Soldiers that were wounded at Fort Hood as well as Overseas Contingency Operations areas.

The Army will never be able to repay warriors who have been wounded in defense of our country, but we can honor them by striving every day to provide the care and support these heroes need to return to duty or transition as a proud veteran in our community.

President John F. Kennedy once remarked in reference to Veterans Day that, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”

As the SGM of the WTC, I know that the members of this command labor everyday to make the program better, and deliver the highest-quality care and transition services that our Soldiers, Veterans, and their Families deserve.

BG Cheek – Happy 234th Birthday Army

–By BG Gary H. Cheek–

From the time of “the shot heard round the world” at Lexington the Minutemen, and then Soldiers of the United States, have been providing each other Warrior Care. Comrades in arms stepped forward to take care of the wounded, ill, and injured in the ranks. Soon after the founding of the Army on June 14th, 1775, a formal medical department was created to treat Soldiers.

But Warrior Care has always gone beyond medical treatment. Those who have laid down their body on behalf of their country have had a place of honor in our hearts as a nation. From our beginnings as a poor country on the edge of a wilderness we as a people have taken care of those who keep the hearth safe. Even our national anthem, the Star Spangled Banner, is about a symbol that is battered, but never broken, and more inspiring for service because it has been tested. That is why we emphasize being the “home of the brave”, because no great nation can long endure without those willing to sacrifice on its behalf.

This tradition has continued through the centuries, whether the Soldier wore blue, or butternut, or khaki, or digi. We as a people have endeavored to do our best by those Soldiers and Veterans to whom we nod our head in respect as they pass. And in all things we do as Americans, the way it was done yesterday is never considered “good enough”. Each day we look to take care of Soldiers and their families better than the day before.

All those who serve Wounded Warriors in the Warrior Transition Command are humbled by the honor of serving in the greatest Army the world has ever known, and serving the best exemplars within it.

Join me in wishing the Army a Happy 234th Birthday.

BG Gary H. Cheek
Commanding, Warrior Transition Command, US Army Medical Command

Five Years of Support

This April, the Army Wounded Warrior Program (AW2) marks five years of service to severely wounded, injured, and ill Soldiers and their Families. I had the opportunity to meet with some of AW2’s Soldiers and their Families at last year’s Symposium in Indianapolis. I look forward to the same opportunity in 2009.

AW2 has a unique mission providing personalized support to the most severely wounded Soldiers and their Families. This is a critical mission in our Army. When Soldiers volunteer to serve we ask them to take a solemn oath to our country. In turn, the Army makes a commitment to Soldiers and Families. It is the solemn and honorable task for those of us here at home to care for our nation’s Soldiers who have raised their hands and sacrificed on behalf of our country.

The Army takes this mission very seriously.

The Army recently aligned warrior care services under one organization, the Warrior Transition Command (WTC). WTC provides Soldiers and Families with unified support from the battlefield to the home front. And now, as commander of the newly formed WTC, I am very proud to have AW2 integrated into our collective efforts, working side by side.

AW2 was the Army’s first program put in place to serve the most severely wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers—most returning from post-9/11 combat deployments. Over its five years in existence, AW2 has set the standard for care and compassion and its mission will not change under WTC.

The Army has not always gotten it right. The Army has, however, always worked to fix issues and to make improvements.

Soldiers serve our country every day on the front lines. As tough as their battles can be at war often the more difficult battles take place at home for wounded, injured, and ill Soldiers and their Families. It is our mission in Army warrior care to support Soldiers and Families as they heal, recover, and transition to their new normal. I am proud to be a part of this mission.

I look forward to continuing this noble endeavor with AW2, and I am counting on the continued dedication and enthusiasm of all who serve our wounded, ill, and injured heroes.

Thank you for your service.

BG Gary Cheek
Commander
Warrior Transition Command

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Write a blog for WTC

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