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.

Wounded Warrior Offers No Excuses to Dragons in New Jersey

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MSG Jongema with Kingsway Regional Middle School’s 8th grade English teachers following his presentation to their students about being a Soldier, serving in in Iraq, and recovering from combat injuries.

By Emily Oehler, WTC Stratcom
No, this blog is not about the latest episode of Game of Thrones, but rather modern history coming to life for eighth graders in Kingsway Regional Middle School (home of the dragons).  The students, whose motto is “no excuses,” listen attentively to and actively engaged with MSG Jarrett Jongema as part of a joint Social Studies and English project where they are learning about past and present wars.  He shared with them 20 years of Army experience, a tour in Iraq, surviving and recovering from being severely wounded in combat due to a suicide bomber, and his return to duty preparing team Army for Warrior Games – the Olympics for wounded, ill, and injured servicemembers.

“There are several things everyone does in the Army, starting with physical training (PT). Soldiers need to maintain a certain level of fitness in order to do their job and sustain the daily demands and potentially the injuries of service,” explained MSG Jongema.  “We train in our primary military operational specialty.  I was manned-portable air defense (essentially infantry with surface-to-air engagement capability) and learned a variety of weapons, including the Stinger and the Avenger with night vision that allowed me to see you smoking several miles away.  We also acquired additional skills like air assault operations – jumping out of helicopters.”

MSG Jongema explained that with training and experience Soldiers progress in their level of responsibility.  Due to his skills, he was assigned to the president’s personal air defense detail after 9/11.  “It was a sobering experience to know you might have to pull a trigger and take down a plane.  There was even secret service assigned to protect me.”

In April 2004, MSG Jongema (a Staff Sergeant at the time) deployed to Iraq – stationed at Camp Blackjack (also known as Camp Victory).  Answering a student’s question about the day in the life in combat, MSG Jongema explained, “Every day, six days a week, was PT, breakfast, going to the entry control points, training Iraqi Soldiers, dinner, and then rest before going with previously trained Iraqi Soldiers at 8 p.m. for night missions.  The variable was Friday.  It’s like Sundays for Muslims.  Rather than eat meals ready to eat (MREs) or go to the mess hall, I ate with the Iraqi troops each day.  Boy did I jones for a bag of Skittles!”

This was his battle rhythm for six months before his Humvee was struck by a vehicle born improvised explosive device (IED)—or suicide bomber—of 500 pounds of military-grade munitions and tungsten-carbide ball bearings.  “It’s awesome that I don’t have a memory of the explosion.  For my men, it is the most painful memory they carry with them – seeing me bleed out and die in their truck. I woke up in Walter Reed four weeks later – having died eight times.  Along with not remembering that day, I don’t remember much of anything prior to September 2004 when I was injured.  I don’t remember the best days of my life – my wedding, the birth of my son, childhood.  What I do know was pieced together through photos, videos, and stories from other people.”

The Army found him unfit for duty – too injured to perform his job.  But an Army policy enabled him to Continue on Active Duty (COAD).  He pointed out to the students, “I have no excuse not to keep doing what I love.  I don’t want to take the easy way out.   Every day since September 2004 is a bonus day for me.”

Back on duty, MSG Jongema now manages the Army’s Warrior Games team, part of the adaptive sports and reconditioning program at Warrior Transition Units where wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers focus on their recovery and transition back to or out of the Army.  Pointing to photos of athletes from the new 2013 team, he stated, “These Soldiers don’t use their injuries as an excuse.  Everything can be adapted to do what you want.  This Soldier learned archery with one arm and uses his teeth to pull the arrow.  Here is a hand cycle for those without legs or spinal cord damage.  He shoots without a hand.  And there are team sports – sitting basketball is aggressive!  Just like we adapt to new combat situations with training, we adapt to life after our injuries.”

In closing, MSG Jongema charged the teenage dragons, “You have to work hard.  You only get what you train for.  No excuses.”

Honoring Occupational Therapists at WTUs

Sergeant L. M. (left) is an Army medic who is working at the Fort Hood pharmacy while in the Warrior Transition Unit.  Occupational therapy placed her at this work therapy site in support of her goal to become a pharmacist upon completion of a medical board discharge. (2008)

Sergeant L. M. (left) is an Army medic who is working at the Fort Hood pharmacy while in the Warrior Transition Unit. Occupational therapy placed her at this work therapy site in support of her goal to become a pharmacist upon completion of a medical board discharge. (2008)

By CPT Cindy Dean, WTC Clinical Services Division
The U.S. Army Warrior Transition Command is honoring our Warrior Transition Unit (WTU) Occupational Therapists for Occupational Therapy Month.  Our Occupational Therapists have been involved with Warrior Transition Units since their inception.

According to the American Occupational Therapy Association, “Occupational Therapy is the use of purposeful activities or interventions designed to achieve functional outcomes which promote health, prevent injury or disability, and which develop, improve, sustain, or restore the highest possible level of independence of any individual who has an injury, illness, cognitive impairment, psychosocial dysfunction, mental illness, developmental or learning disability, physical disability, or other disorder or condition.”Occupational Therapists have long been a part of the medical team providing intervention to US Soldiers. Occupational Therapists have provided Soldiers with purposeful activities to perform during their rehabilitation to improve functional outcomes since World War I.

Occupational Therapy was there with the Soldiers when the first Wounded Warrior Units (WTUs) stood up in 2008. As part of the team working to transition the Soldier, the Occupational Therapist would determine the Soldier’s Occupational History, training and education, abilities, deficits and future plans. The Occupational Therapist would work with the Soldier to identify their goals, indentify avenues to reach their goals, and instill the mindset to achieve stated goals. As the WTUs have matured and developed, the Occupational Therapist is part of a large support team that collaborates to facilitate a successful transition of the Soldier.

The Occupational Therapist instructs the Soldiers in how to set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, Time-bound) goals across the Comprehensive Transition Plan (CTP) domains of Family, Spiritual, Emotional, Social, Physical, and Career. The Occupational Therapist in the WTU works with the Nurse Case Managers to determine readiness from a medical perspective for participation in Career and Education. Working with the Transition Coordinator, the Occupational Therapist ensures the work site placement is in line with the Soldier’s Career Goal and functional capabilities. The Occupational Therapists lead Life Skills Classes to begin to prepare the Soldier for a Successful Transition such as Anger Management, Leisure Skill Exploration, Meal Planning and Preparation. Each particular group is based upon the individual needs of the Soldiers in the WTU and are performance-based. Ensuring the Soldier is ready for transition is the cornerstone goal of all members of the team, the Occupational Therapist may engage the Soldier in career prep activities that focus on interacting with others, time management, and cognitive integrative skills.

Please take time to thank the Occupational Therapists on your team.

The Basics of COAD/COAR: An Interview with COL Dickinson

Colonel Rick Dickinson, G1 Division Chief and Chief Human Capital Officer (CHCO), U.S. Army Warrior Transition Command

Colonel Rick Dickinson, G1 Division Chief and Chief Human Capital Officer (CHCO), U.S. Army Warrior Transition Command

By: Tracy Freedman, Warrior Transition Command Stratcom Division
We’ve received several comments from Soldiers asking about the COAD/COAR program. In response, we sat down with COL Rick Dickinson, G1 and Chief Human Capital Officer for the U.S. Army Warrior Transition Command, to get answers to your questions.

Q: What does COAD/COAR stand for?

COL Dickinson: COAD is Continuation on Active Duty. COAR is Continuation on Active Reserve. The difference between the two is that COAD is for active component Soldiers and COAR is for reserve component Soldiers.

Q: What is the COAD/COAR program?

COL Dickinson: The COAD/COAR is an option for Soldiers who have been found unfit for duty due to a wound, illness, or injury that may make them unable to do their previous job in the Army. For example, an infantry Soldier who was hurt down-range by an IED and unfortunately loss part of his or her leg. The Soldier is no longer fit for duty as an infantry Soldier, but the Soldier could apply for the COAD program and continue to serve in the Army in another capacity if he meets all of the qualifications.

Q: What is the application process like?

COL Dickinson: It’s a little bit of a lengthy process. Most Soldiers who come into COAD/COAR are graduates of the Warrior Care and Transition Program (WCTP). While they are in the WCTP and are interested in continuing to serve in the Army, they should communicate that with their Triad of Care and their Triad of Leadership. It’s important that their Nurse Case Manager, doctor, Squad Leader, and Company Commander all understand that the Soldier has a desire to continue to serve [in the Army].  The Triad of Care and the Triad of Leadership will walk the Soldier through the application process. It’s important for Soldiers to know that applications require the endorsement from the First Colonel (06) in the chain of command—most usually that will be the hospital Commander. Sometimes, Soldiers prefer to use their former line unit Commander for that approval because of familiarity.

Q: What are the specific eligibility requirements for COAD/COAR?

COL Dickinson: COAD applies to officers on active duty list or regular Army enlisted Soldiers or Soldiers in the Active Guard Reserve. They have to have at least 15, but no more than 20 years of active federal service, they must be qualified in a critical skill or shortage MOS, and their disability must have resulted from combat or terrorism.

The requirements for COAR are very similar. Soldiers must have at least 15, but less than 20 years of service, qualify in a critical skill or shortage MOS, and their disability must have resulted from combat or terrorism.

There are exceptions to those rules, but the more exceptions you have in your application, the longer it takes [to process], and more scrutiny is placed on those applications.

The thing we’re working on now is the disparity between how enlisted Soldiers and officers in COAD are treated. Right now we have officers who routinely stay beyond 20 years. For enlisted Soldiers, the max is 20 years. We’re trying to give enlisted Soldiers a more equal footing, so if they are more senior NCOs, they can continue to serve 24, 26, and up to 30 years.

Q: What type of jobs do these Soldiers do if they are considered unfit for duty?

COL Dickinson: Sometimes the [COAD/COAR] Soldiers will do jobs that are just as ordinary as the job of any other Soldier. More than likely, they are not going to do what they did before, but having said that, we do have several Soldiers who are COAD who have deployed back down range.

A lot of [COAD/COAR] Soldiers have more administrative roles. We have to be very cognizant that these Soldiers have some sort of severe injury (amputees, burns, etc.), so these Soldiers have to be in a place where they can get healthcare if they need it. Also, we don’t want to put a strain on their bodies more than they’ve already had. Especially with prosthetic devices, you don’t want to put them in an environment that’s too austere or dirty because the prosthetics are very technically complex devices and we don’t want to damage them. I hate to use the word “desk-job”, but administrative jobs… are what they do for day-to-day work.

Q: What are the transition options for Soldiers who don’t qualify for COAD/COAR?

COL Dickinson: Unfortunately, not all Soldiers who apply for COAD/COAR will get accepted. We have approximately 300-350 COAD/COAR Soldiers in the Army. Not all of them are at the Warrior Transition Command. Some are out in the force.

If a Soldier applies, but is not accepted, it’s not the end of the world. As much as we’d like to keep them all, we just don’t have a place, because it does require a current job opening that meets the Soldier’s skill set. They can transition [out of the Army] like any other Soldier. We have a lot of former Soldiers that are now working as civilians throughout the DOD. My bottom line to them is to apply and seek other opportunities. If you don’t get accepted, there are a lot of other options out there.

For more information about COAD/COAR and other transition options, visit http://www.wtc.army.mil/soldier/transition_options.html.

Infantryman Turned Recruiter: Disability Hiring Coordinator Wants to Hire You

The following post was written by Robert Montez, the disability hiring coordinator for Headquarters Medical Command, Fort Sam, Houston. He is also a wounded Soldier who was hired by the Department of the Army under the Schedule A hiring authority.

Though not specifically for Veterans, the Schedule A authority for people with disabilities, 5 CFR 213.3102(u), is an excepted authority that agencies can use to appoint eligible Veterans who have a severe physical, psychological, or intellectual disability. For more information and eligibility requirements, visit: http://www.fedshirevets.gov/job/shav/index.aspx.

SFC Robert Montez receives his second Purple Heart and second Bronze Star for Valor alongside his Family.

SFC Robert Montez receives his second Purple Heart and second Bronze Star for Valor alongside his Family.

I served as an Infantryman from 1997-2011, working my way up the ranks from Private to Sergeant First Class. My deployment to Afghanistan in 2009 changed my life. I was shot in the shoulder on August 18, 2009, and then hit by two road side bombs — one on August 23, 2009 and the other one on October 21, 2009. I tried my best to stay with my men, but it just wasn’t possible.

Now, I recruit for the Department of the Army.

Who I’m Recruiting

As a Department of the Army civilian recruiter, I am looking for candidates that have a targeted disability and are able to obtain a Schedule A letter. What I do is help candidates with a Schedule A letter find jobs in the Army as civilian employees in one of our many hospitals or clinics Army wide. Jobs that we offer range from doctors, nurses, human resource professionals, and chefs — basically any job that makes a hospital run and function is what we are looking for. I know that we offer a broad range of jobs, and the reason for this is because every installation’s needs are different. What one base in Germany may need at any given time is going to be different than the needs of a base in Maryland. Still interested?

How to Apply

  1. Visit www.civlianmedicaljobs.com and click the link that says Jobs for People with Disabilities
  2. Upload your resume and your Schedule A letter
  3. Wait for an email from me for next steps
  4. Once you receive my response, go to USA jobs and start looking for jobs you qualify for
  5. Apply for that position on USA jobs LINK to: https://www.usajobs.gov/
  6. Send me an email notifying me of the jobs you applied for and why you think you are a good fit for that position (include the job number, job title, and location in your email)

With all this information, I will then call and email that specific installation and inform them about the person that just applied for one of their job postings. I will inform them that this is a Schedule A candidate, and he or she meet needs for that job. Then, it’s up to the specific installation to bring the applicant in for an interview.

Please note that there is a GS-civilian hiring freeze, but we are still actively recruiting new talent for current openings and for additional openings that are expected when the hiring freeze ends.

If you have any questions about our program, please let me know in the comments section below this blog. I really look forward to working with you!

Two Soldiers, One Goal: Represent the Army in 2013 Warrior Games

SPC Andrew Schaffercouncil, Warrior Transition Unit, Fort Carson, Colorado, slams a ball over the net during the archery and sitting volleyball trials held at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, on February 25- March 1. Athletes are competing to represent the Army during the 2013 Warrior Games. (U.S. Army Photo by Monica Wilson)

SPC Andrew Schaffercouncil, Warrior Transition Unit, Fort Carson, Colorado, slams a ball over the net during the archery and sitting volleyball trials held at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, on February 25- March 1. Athletes are competing to represent the Army during the 2013 Warrior Games. (U.S. Army Photo by Monica Wilson)

By Emily D. Anderson, WTC Stratcom
One suffered from a left shoulder injury, the other is recovering from a leg injury, but both have the same plan…to represent the Army in the 2013 Warrior Games.

“I’m looking forward to everything with Warrior Games because the level of play is off the charts,” said SPC Andrew Schaffercouncil, Warrior Transition Unit (WTU), Fort Carson, Colorado. “They give me something to strive for.”

Schaffercouncil is continuing his efforts to earn a spot on the Army’s Warrior Games team by attending the cycling, shooting, and swimming happening at Fort Bliss, Texas, and El Paso, Texas, March 4-11.

“I use to think I was a decent swimmer until I attended the previous swimming camps, but now I know what I have to work on for the trials,” he added.

In 2012, Schaffercouncil was medically evacuated from Afghanistan, but he has not let that stop him from setting new goals.

“The WTU is really great with helping me to adapt and get back to finding a sense of normalcy, and adaptive sports help me keep focus on the now,” he said.

The cycling, shooting, and swimming trials follow the archery and track, field trials hosted by the Warrior Transition Command at Fort Belvoir, VA, February 25-March 1.

“I couldn’t see myself doing anything except sitting at home, but Warrior Games has given me the chance to really compete again,” said Army Veteran Chad Mcduffee, who was injured in 2006 when an improvised explosive device struck his vehicle in a province near Baghdad, Iraq.

Army Veteran Chad Mcduffee of Ballinger, Texas, throws the shot put during the archery and sitting volleyball trials held at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, on February 25- March 1. Mcduffee hopes to represent the Army in the archery and field events during the 2013 Warrior Games. (U.S. Army Photo by Monica Wilson)

Army Veteran Chad Mcduffee of Ballinger, Texas, throws the shot put during the archery and sitting volleyball trials held at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, on February 25- March 1. Mcduffee hopes to represent the Army in the archery and field events during the 2013 Warrior Games. (U.S. Army Photo by Monica Wilson)

After originally being misdiagnosed, Mcduffee received a necessary surgery for his leg injury in 2011. Despite the injury, he found a new attitude in life stating, “Again, I have something to work toward, and this has given me a new outlook.”

“Before I found out about adaptive sports I was kind of depressed.” said Mcduffee, who if selected will compete in the sitting discuss and sitting shot put competitions. “I’ve always been very competitive and wanted to beat everyone in everything, so when I was injured I thought all of that was over.”

Mcduffee, who retired as a staff sergeant after 11 years of service, carries a kettle bell named “Beyonce” to help strengthen his throwing arm during competitions.

“When I first learned about Warrior Games, I looked at last year’s scores and knew that’s what I had to beat,” Mcduffee said. “With the help of Beyonce, I’ve practiced, and now I’m throwing better than the person who won gold last year.”

Mcduffee also plans to attend the U.S. Paralympics Endeavor Games in June and hopes to participate in the next Paralympics.

“I want nothing more than to wear the red, white, and blue and serve my country again,” he said.

For more Army Warrior Games coverage, visit the WTC Road to Warrior Games page. 

Comprehensive Transition Plan helpful in Soldier’s recovery

To support each Warrior in Transition’s return to the force or transition to Veteran status, the Army developed a systematic framework known as the Comprehensive Transition Plan.

To support each Warrior in Transition’s return to the force or transition to Veteran status, the Army developed a systematic framework known as the Comprehensive Transition Plan.

By Emily D. Anderson, WTC Stratcom
SFC Clem Cowan did not realize when he tore his Achilles during a physical fitness training session March 27, 2012 that it would lead to being diagnosed with other medical issues while assigned to the Warrior Transition Unit (WTU), Fort Polk, Louisiana.

“When I went to start the retirement process, I was told that I would have to postpone because I was going to a WTU,” said Cowan. “I didn’t think I was in that bad of shape just dealing with the normal wear and tear on the body.”

I’ve been dealing with pain for the past six years, but I thought it was the normal wear and tear on the body,” he said. “Once you’ve been in the military four or five years, or especially 15 years or more after carrying ruck sacks, road marches, constant physical fitness, it takes a toll on your body.”

The idea of being in a WTU was not Cowan’s first choice because he had a few misconceptions about the WTU being only for Soldiers being injured while deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan. He has since changed this mindset, stating “being in a WTU has been thumbs up.”

“The WTU is for wounded, ill, or injured Soldiers,” Cowan said. “In the past that was something that I never wanted to hear, but I’ve served, gave my country 100 percent, and now I’m an injured Soldier trying to take care of my medical issues.”

“This has been an experience I wasn’t expecting,” he added. “I thought I would go in, do a little therapy and that’ll be it, but it’s so much more.”

Each Soldier in a WTU is assigned a Triad of Care comprised of a squad leader, nurse case manager (NCM), and primary care manager. These professionals work together to coordinate all aspects of the Soldier’s medical and non-medical care.

“My Triad of Care, my NCM, and my squad leader, really take care of Soldiers, they really listen and are very helpful,” Cowan said “They are definitely taking care of Soldiers.”

“I’ve been treated with respect; I wasn’t rushed; and they attended to each issue,” he said. He continues to describe his experience as being “a real blessing.”

Cowan is currently in the rehabilitation phase in his Comprehensive Transition Plan (CTP). The CTP is a seven-part process for every Soldier in a WTU that includes an individual plan that the Soldier creates for him or herself with support of the WTU cadre.

“My physical evaluation board (PEB) has found me physically unfit and I’m just waiting on my disability ratings from VA,” Cowan said. “I’ve been in 23 years and I’m ready to retire and spend time fishing with the grandkids.”

An Eye on the Goal: The Value of a Having a Plan

By:  LuAnn Georgia, Warrior Transition Command Stratcom Division

SPC Quinton Piccone, Warrior Transition Unit, Fort Sam Houston, Texas, sights in the target during archery practice at the 2013 Warrior Game archery and sitting volleyball trials held on Fort Belvoir, Virginia, February 25-March 1. Piccone also hopes to represent the Army in sitting volleyball, swimming, and shot put during the 2013 Warrior Games. (U.S. Army Photo by Monica Wilson)

SPC Quinton Piccone, Warrior Transition Unit, Fort Sam Houston, Texas, sights in the target during archery practice at the 2013 Warrior Game archery and sitting volleyball trials held on Fort Belvoir, Virginia, February 25-March 1. Piccone also hopes to represent the Army in sitting volleyball, swimming, and shot put during the 2013 Warrior Games. (U.S. Army Photo by Monica Wilson)


Goal setting is an important part of a successful transition plan for any task.  It serves as a map, with a starting point, an ending point, and check points along the way.   It is an integral part of a wounded, ill, and injured Soldier’s transition to Veteran status or back into the force and is one of seven key processes in the Comprehensive Transition Plan (CTP).

In a recent interview with CPT Cindy Dean, Occupational/Physical Therapy Consultant, Clinical Services Division, Warrior Transition Command and Jennifer Leonard, Action Officer, Warrior Transition Command Career and Education Readiness Branch (CERB), I had the opportunity to discuss the importance of goal setting and the process that Soldiers follow in their CTP.

Why is goal setting so important?

Leonard:  These Soldiers have had their lives turned upside down in a way they didn’t expect, goal setting helps them refocus.

What does the goal setting process entail?

Dean and Leonard shared that when a Soldier enters a Warrior Transition Unit (WTU), part of their assessment and transition phase includes goal setting training.  These goals must be identified within the first 21 days of entering the WTU.  To assist them in the process, a standardized workbook is included in CTP guidance.  The Occupational Therapist assigned to work with the transitioning Soldier helps ensure that there is a balanced approached to the Soldier’s goal setting by ensuring they have addressed each of the six Domains of Strength:  Career, Physical, Emotional, Social, Family, and Spiritual.  In addition, the goals must also be specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time-bound (SMART).

How are Soldiers who are not comfortable with, or experienced in goal setting, introduced to the process?

Leonard:  Soldiers set goals all the time in the Army and may not realize they are doing so. 

Dean: By identifying their long term and short term goals, Soldiers are then able to establish sub-goals.  These sub-goals are the small steps which lead them to the final goal.  This process helps them avoid being overwhelmed and gives them the ability to stay focused. An example would be the desire to achieve a 300 on their APFT test. They have to plan and train for different activities in order to be successful. 

What ensures a Soldiers success in achieving their goals?

Dean:  Soldiers do a self assessment to determine their goals in a step by step process led by their Occupational Therapist. They reflect upon their personal strengths, challenges and potential barriers to goal achievement.  They must be willing to stick with their plan and do the work. Spousal and Caregiver participation is welcomed and encouraged as they can often act as an advocate. 

Leonard:  Soldiers own their goals. They own their CTP.  Goals can change and when they do, Soldiers have to update their plan to address these changes.  Soldiers have to decide if their goals are realistic and then they must be willing to manage to their expectations. 

Throughout the process, Soldiers continue to follow up with their interdisciplinary team of care to ensure they are making progress.  With steadfast determination, the Soldier can know and understand the success of their plan.  As with anything worthwhile in life, hard work and a good attitude are a must.

Learn more about goal setting and all of the seven processes of the Comprehensive Transition Plan here: http://www.wtc.army.mil/factsheets/ctp_brochure.pdf

Wounded Warrior Transition Unit Cadre Competes for Warrior Games Spot

SSG Michael Lage, Cadre, Fort Sam Houston Warrior Transition Unit, focuses on his archery technique during the Warrior Transition Command Warrior Games archery and sitting volleyball trials held on Fort Belvoir, VA Feb. 25-March 1. Lage is one of more than 40 athletes competing for a spot on the Army’s Warrior Games team. (U.S. Army Photo by Monica Wilson)

SSG Michael Lage, Cadre, Fort Sam Houston Warrior Transition Unit, focuses on his archery technique during the Warrior Transition Command Warrior Games archery and sitting volleyball trials held on Fort Belvoir, VA Feb. 25-March 1. Lage is one of more than 40 athletes competing for a spot on the Army’s Warrior Games team. (U.S. Army Photo by Monica Wilson)

By Emily Anderson, WTC Stratcom
Everyone has a story and SSG Michael Lage is no different. After an improvised explosive device claimed the lives of the other members of his team, Lage sustained third degree burns over 35 percent of his body and a left hand and right thumb amputation. However, the sole survivor has a positive outlook on life and uses his experience in an important capacity as cadre at the Warrior Transition Unit (WTU,) Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

“I wanted to be a squad leader at a WTU because I know what the Soldiers are going through,” Lage said. “They want people who have experienced what they have.”

“I was hurt when I was 29, but many of these Soldiers are getting hurt at 18, 19 or in their early 20’s,” he added. “Many of them think life is over when they are injured, I’m there to show them that it’s not true and they can do whatever they want as long as they work at it.”

Lage is one of more than 40 athletes competing in the final sitting volleyball and archery trials hosted by the WTC on Fort Belvoir, VA, February 25-March 1 for a chance to represent the Army in archery, cycling, shooting and sitting volleyball during the 2013 Warrior Games.

“Warrior Games is a chance to be part of a group and be a team player,” Lage said. “It’s good to show that my door closed in one direction, but opened in another.”

During the 2011 and 2012 Paralympics Texas Regional competitions, he won first place when shooting with a mouth tab – a tab attached to the string used to assist the archer with pulling the bow. Also, in November, Lage cycled 500 miles from Wichita Falls, Kansas to Corpus Kristi, Texas.

Lage plans to use the knowledge and experiences he has gained to help the Soldiers in the Fort Sam Houston WTU.

“I’m the cadre in charge of the adaptive reconditioning at my company,” Lage said. “Regardless of the Soldiers performing adaptive sports and reconditioning activities, we are changing their lives.”

“We actually mandate five hours of physical activity per week,” he added. “I’m hoping once a Soldier is finished with the rehab portion, they’ll get into something that they are interested in and will keep them occupied.”

Regardless of how he does during the trials, Lage plans to continue his adaptive reconditioning journey by cycling 350 miles throughout France shortly after Warrior Games.

Online Benefit Web Portal Becomes Easier to Navigate

eBenefits is a web portal; a central location for Veterans, Service Members, and their families to research, find, access, and, manage their benefits and personal information.

By Emily Anderson, WTC Stratcom
The Department of Defense (DOD) and Veteran Affairs (VA) updated the eBenefits web portal for easier access and navigation for Soldiers and Veterans to use during their search for resources and provides tools to help in their transition process.

“The improvements eliminate some or the earlier confusion as to where certain information and documents can be found,” said Dexter B. Friday, financial support specialist and retirement services officer, Strategy, Plans and Operations Branch, AW2.  “It will provide easier navigation capabilities for our Soldiers and Veterans.”

“This portal is not just for our Soldiers and Veterans, but all Soldiers and Veterans,” he added. “eBenefits provides a direct link to the VA system and with the use of this tool Soldiers can access their VA claim status, retrieve military records, review their payment history, etc. Its capabilities are endless.”

Currently, eBenefits is a joint, secure web portal that provides resources and self-service capabilities to Soldiers, Veterans, and their Families to research, access and manage their VA and military benefits and personal information.

“I receive frequent requests from our Veterans concerning their benefits and most of the information can be found on the site,” he added. “I suggest that they take the time to review and get to know all that it has to offer.

The web portal currently provides features such as access to official military personal documents, the ability to view the status of a disability compensation claim, view Post-9/11 GI Bill enrollment status, apply for Veterans benefits, order medical equipment such as hearing aid batteries and prosthetic socks, and many other features are being added regularly.

“There are many state benefits available for Veterans, but these benefits required a letter from the VA along with the application.” he said. “Previously, our Veterans would have to call the VA Customer Service to request a letter be sent to them, but with eBenefits our Veterans can download the letter themselves and not have to wait the time for VA to produce, print and mail or fax the document.”

Other portal improvements include a tool to help in determining if a Veteran is eligible for Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment benefits and a search function that identifies a claimant’s appointed veterans service representative, with links to Google Maps indicating the location of their nearest representative’s office.

Before accessing the eBenefits Web portal, Soldiers, Veterans, and Family members must be listed in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) and obtain a DS Logon. They can choose from two levels of registration, DS Logon Level 1 (Basic) and DS Logon Level 2 (Premium). The service is free, and once you have a DS Logon, it’s valid for the rest of your life.

Veterans who attempt to register and are informed they have no DEERS record, will need to have VA verify their military service and add them to DEERS. This is most likely to occur in the case of Veterans who served prior to 1982. All VA Regional Offices have staff familiar with procedures for adding a Veteran to DEERS.

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