Wounded Warrior Town Hall at Walter Reed

By Breanna Hockenbury, Joint Task Force National Capital Region Medical Command (JTF CapMed) Communications

BG Stephen Jones

BG Steve Jones showed posters with the transition timelines, including when Army warriors from Walter Reed will move to Fort Belvoir and the new Walter Reed.

Wednesday morning I woke up early and instead of going to JTF CapMed I hopped on a bus, headed north on 14th Street, and joined approximately 200 Warriors in Transition and Family members at Walter Reed Warrior Transition Brigade’s morning formation. Sitting together in the Karen Wagner Gym bleachers, we heard from BG Steve Jones, JTF CapMed Deputy Commander, about the National Capital Region Medical Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) transition and the relocation of Army Warriors in Transition to the new Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, MD or to Fort Belvoir Community Hospital in Belvoir, VA, when Walter Reed Army Medical Center closes in August. BG Jones provided some updates on the transition but mainly listened and addressed the questions and concerns from Army Warriors in Transition and their Families.

He explained to us how relocation and room assignments at the new facilities would be decided—medical requirements will be the first deciding factor with case managers, providers, and Service Command and Control assigning each Warrior in Transition to the appropriate facility and room as part of the enhanced discharge planning process. BG Jones also explained that “the ultimate goal is to provide patient and Family-centered care that best supports the healing of all warriors.” Warrior Transition Unit Cadre from Walter Reed will move prior to the Warriors in Transition’s to ensure that the facilities and rooms are ready to provide care.

Warriors in Transition and Families also had a chance to browse posters that displayed photographs of the new facilities to get a sense of where they would be living and receiving care after the transition. BG Jones invited all of the warriors to take tours of the new facilities once they are re-assigned to their new location. BG Jones also stressed that the new facilities are a significant improvement from what is currently available at Walter Reed.

When BG Jones opened up the floor to Warriors in Transition’s questions and concerns, they were primarily interested in parking, child care, and the timeline for moving. Although, at this time, parking at both facilities is competitive, warriors will enjoy the benefit of dedicated warrior parking in convenient locations at clinics and their lodging. Child care services at the new facilities will be similar to what is currently available at Walter Reed today.

At the end of the townhall, BG Jones encouraged warriors to email him personally if they had specific questions about how the transition would affect their Families. For more information about the National Capital Region Medical Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) transition, please visit the JTFCapMed website.

Army Wounded Warrior Athletes Aim to Dominate Shooting Competition at Warrior Games 2011

By Erich Langer, WTC Stratcom

PFC Latoya McClain takes a shot during a shooting clinic at the Army Marksmanship Unit

Last week, Army wounded warrior marksmen took aim at becoming members of the Army’s 2011 Warrior Games team at a special shooting clinic conducted by the elite Army Marksmanship Unit (AMU). Throughout the week, warrior athletes learned shooting skills and techniques from some of the world’s finest instructors and shooters; AMU cadre include Olympic champions, world champions, and U.S. national champions who have responsibilities of training Soldiers and competing in world-class venues that highlight the Army’s expertise in all things shooting.

In both civilian and military marksmanship circles the AMU is recognized as the very best of the very best or “‘gold standard”–similar to the Army Golden Knights, Air Force Thunderbirds, or Navy Blue Angels.

In 2010, Army athletes took nearly every gold medal and the lion’s share of silver and bronze medals in numerous Warrior Games shooting events.  Building on that success will be difficult but with training, instruction, and mentorship from the AMU, MSG James Shiver, Warrior Transition Command (WTC) Non-Commissioned Officer-in-Charge of Adaptive Sports, believes the Army is raising the bar.

“The Army Marksmanship Unit has been extremely supportive of our Warrior Games shooters,” said Shiver. “In 2010, they hosted clinics and sent coaches and support staff to the Games. This year they are building on that even more. It is awe inspiring, quite frankly jaw dropping for our athletes to have this opportunity to learn from these outstanding shooters. I hope each will seize this opportunity and, hopefully, by working hard this week, we’ll ultimately improve on last year’s success against the other services.”

The second annual Warrior Games, scheduled for May 16-21, 2011, at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO, will feature 200 wounded, ill, and injured servicemembers from all branches of the U.S. armed forces. Competitors will compete in several sports including shooting, swimming, archery, track and field, cycling, sitting volleyball, and wheelchair basketball.

One of the youngest prospects for the Warrior Games shooting team is PFC Latoya McClain from the Fort Bliss Warrior Transition Unit (WTU).  The South Carolina native was conducting physical training in stifling 125 degree weather in Kirkuk, Iraq, when she suffered a heat stroke that nearly killed her on May 31, 2010. Fortunately an Army medic was nearby to render prompt medical assistance.  Initially confined to a wheelchair as she learned to walk again, her recovery has included stints in Army hospitals in Balad, Iraq, Germany, and Texas. 

McClain’s focus on succeeding in this year’s Warrior Games is evident in her captivating smile and positive attitude.  “I never shot a weapon before basic training,” she said. “I kept messing up when it came to shooting, but my drill sergeant and the trainers were patient and worked with me. I paid attention and got better. I shot sharpshooter at Basic Training and then expert at AIT [Advanced Individual Training]. Shooting is fun and I really like the sport and I think I’m pretty good at it. I think the reason I do so well is that I follow instructions and do what I’m told.”

Her hard work and commitment to excel has paid off as McClain earned a silver medal during the clinic’s rifle competition shoot off. McClain wants to round out her stay in the Army and is looking at future options that will allow her to finish her education and possibly work in the medical field. She represents the many wounded warriors who have applied their diligence in athletics to other areas of their lives in order to achieve a successful transition post injury.  

Medalists in the AMU shooting clinic were

10-Meter Pistol

SSG Michael Strong, Fort Gordon WTU – Gold
SGT Erin Bell, Fort Knox WTU – Silver
SFC Benjamin Trescott, Fort Jackson WTU – Bronze

10-Meter Rifle

SSG Kory Irish, Fort Drum WTU – Gold
PFC Latoya McClain, Fort Bliss WTU – Silver
SFC Benjamin Trescott, Fort Jackson WTU – Bronze

BG Cheek Plays Hoops with Wounded Warriors

By BG Gary Cheek, WTC Commander

BG Gary Cheek (right) plays wheelchair basketball with Wounded Warriors at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

BG Gary Cheek (right) shoots hoops at Walter Reed Army Medical Center with a Wounded Warrior.

I recently had the honor of playing wheelchair basketball with the wounded warriors at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. I am encouraged to see these wounded warriors strive to test new limits and achieve new goals as they demonstrate the power of ability over disability—while recovering from serious injury. Looking at these pictures, some blurred due to the speed of the athletes, I am all the more convinced of the power of athletics to inspire recovery, capitalize on physical fitness, and promote opportunities.

As we get closer and closer to the Warrior Games, I am excited to see how the Army Paralympic athletes go head to head against the other services and who wins bragging rights. Hooah.


BG Cheek (right of center) plays wheelchair basketball with Wounded Warriors.

BG Cheek (right of center) plays wheelchair basketball with Wounded Warriors.

WTC Staff and Cadre Wrap Up WTC Conference

By BG Gary Cheek, WTC Commander

BG Gary Cheek and COL Brian Lein, FORSCOM, discuss the importance of caring for Medically Not Ready Soldiers with WTC staff and cadre.

BG Gary Cheek and COL Brian Lein, FORSCOM, discuss the importance of caring for Medically Not Ready Soldiers with WTC staff and cadre.

We have had a productive week in Florida, and we’ve made great strides in preparing the Comprehensive Transition Plan (CTP) to launch at Warrior Transition Units (WTUs) across the country. We have gotten very productive feedback on ways to streamline and improve the CTP from Company Commanders, Squad Leaders, Nurse Case Managers, Primary Care Managers, Soldier and Family Assistance Center (SFAC) Directors, and other essential members of the WTC staff and cadre. Now, we will take those valuable suggestions back and improve the CTP for the benefit of all Warriors in Transition (WTs).

This morning, COL Brian Lein, Command Surgeon of Army Forces Command (FORSCOM), gave us all an important perspective as we move forward with the Warrior Care and Transition Program (WCTP). COL Lein previously spent two years as the Commander of the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, where he supervised the medical treatment of thousands of Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and Airman recently injured on the battlefield. Today, many of those Soldiers are recovering in WTUs.

“WCTP is a strategic imperative,” said COL Lein. “It is critical that we maintain this program to ensure the well-being of our Soldiers and Families in order to preserve an all-volunteer force. Senior FORSCOM Commanders have expressed nothing but gratitude for the way WTUs operate and for the collaboration between them and WTU Commanders.”

COL Lein encouraged all of us to continue to examine the best way to care for Medically Not Ready (MNR) Soldiers, and he particularly emphasized that the WTU Company Commanders should engage with Commanders throughout their installations to make them aware of the services available through WTUs and the more accessible WTU admission procedures. I couldn’t agree more—WTUs are here to help all WTs through their recovery and return to active duty or transition as proud, productive Veterans.

As we move forward, I will keep WTC staff and cadre informed of the improvements to the CTP and continue to emphasize that WTs and their Families need to actively embrace this valuable tool so they can set and achieve measurable goals and move forward with their lives.

LTG Ricky Lynch Emphasizes IMCOM’s Support for CTP

By BG Gary Cheek, WTC Commander

LTG Ricky Lynch, Commanding General of Army Installation Management Command, discusses the importance of CTP at WTC Winter Conference.

LTG Ricky Lynch, Commanding General of Army Installation Management Command, discusses the importance of CTP at WTC Winter Conference.

I appreciated LTG Ricky Lynch, Commanding General of Army Installation Management Command (IMCOM), joining the WTC Winter Conference to demonstrate IMCOM’s support for the CTP.

Warrior Transition Units (WTUs) exist at Medical Treatment Facilities (MTFs) on installations around the country, and WTUs require facilities, personnel, and resources support from installations to provide the best possible service to Warriors in Transition (WTs). This morning, LTG Lynch assured WTC staff and cadre that they will have the full support of installation Commanders in this important mission and encouraged them to collaborate closely with their installation Commanders.

“At IMCOM, we work hard on leadership development to ensure that Commanders understand the issues affecting WTs,” said LTG Lynch. “Senior installation Commanders should be engaged with warrior care so they can work with their leadership to ensure that we’re doing the right thing and that we’re doing things right. Our Soldiers and their Families deserve the very best.”

Effective warrior care requires coordination and commitment from everyone who interacts with the WT. The CTP, as an automated tool, will help consolidate coordination efforts and give cadre, company Commanders, and even installation Commanders visibility on both the overall trends and individual issues of warrior care at each installation. I am confident that this tool will help leaders across installations and throughout the Army work together to better serve each individual WT.

LTG Schoomaker Reinforces Importance of CTP

By BG Gary Cheek, WTC Commander

LTG Eric B. Schoomaker, the Army Surgeon General, commends SFC Derrick Brown for instituting monthly Purple Heart ceremonies at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

LTG Eric B. Schoomaker, the Army Surgeon General, commends SFC Derrick Brown for instituting monthly Purple Heart ceremonies at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Today, I was proud to host LTG Eric Schoomaker, the Army Surgeon General and Commanding General of Army Medical Command (MEDCOM) at the WTC Winter Conference, and I was grateful that he took the time to travel to Florida to accentuate the importance of the Comprehensive Transition Plan (CTP) to WTC staff and cadre.

LTG Schoomaker summoned SFC Derrick Brown to the stage and told staff and cadre about SGT Brown’s efforts to institute monthly Purple Heart ceremonies at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where he serves at the Soldier and Family Assistance Center. Then, LTG Schoomaker asked SFC Brown to lead the Army song, demonstrating his incredible voice. The crowd leapt to its feet and proudly belted their loyalty to the Army. When we finished singing, LTG Schoomaker emphasized that warrior care is truly an example of “the Army rolling along.” “Soldiers need to know that we as a nation are prepared to put them back on their feet literally and figuratively after they’ve walked through the most dangerous neighborhoods and flown over the most treacherous valleys,” he said. “That confidence is necessary for the effective defense of our nation.”

I appreciated LTG Schoomaker’s reminder of the important role cadre play in an individual Soldier’s recovery:

“It is critical that the Squad Leader, Nurse Case Manager, and Primary Care Manager meet as a team and support the Soldier and Family,” he said. “The CTP is not just a widget; it’s a program that embraces the Soldier and Family throughout recovery. Cadre cannot just sit down in a cubicle and check a box—they need to be out seeing their Soldiers while they’re working out and moving around in the hospital. This is an intense engagement with Soldiers and Families on a regular and recurring basis.”

I particularly enjoyed one story LTG Schoomaker told about two Soldiers injured in the Vietnam War who were sent to the same Army hospital for treatment. The two Soldiers set the same goal: they wanted to eventually serve in Congress and challenged each other to accomplish it. When Daniel Inouye of Hawaii got to the House of Representatives first, he called his friend Bob Dole and asked how much longer it would take him to get elected from Kansas. Both gentlemen served our country in the House and went on to serve in the United States Senate. They could have chosen to be defeated by their injuries, but instead, they focused on their abilities and their long-term goals, and went on to achieve great things. Both men have spoken about the “tough love” they received from Army nurses who embraced their goals and encouraged them to think about their abilities and what they wanted to do with their lives.

For today’s Warriors in Transition (WT), the CTP will help formalize the supportive role these nurses and all the many gifted and dedicated members of the Army Medical team play and ensure that this support and the Soldiers’ goals are documented and developed into achievable action items so all WTs can fulfill their potential.

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.


Write a blog for WTC

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