Commander’s Drumbeat: Visits to Warrior Transition Units Inspiring

By BG David Bishop, Commander, Warrior Transition Command
After two months on the job as Commanding General of the Warrior Transition Command and Assistant Surgeon General for Warrior Care, I’m already deeply inspired by the indomitable spirit of our wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers recovering at our Warrior Transition Units (WTU), their Families and by the cadre who support them. As an armor officer I’ve seen firsthand the significance and results of your efforts and I recognize the dedication and talent of everyone who supports our WTU Soldiers and their Families – here in the National Capital Area and in the field.

Almost immediately after arriving here I began visiting WTUs – I’ve seen 12 in 60 days.  I’ve had the opportunity to talk with Senior Mission Commanders, Soldiers, Family members, cadre, and interdisciplinary team members.  I was able to examine a variety of issues with a primary focus on suicide prevention, sexual harassment and assault prevention, and the Integrated Disability Evaluation System (IDES), which directly impacts our WTU Soldiers.  I received invaluable input and feedback from leaders on supporting wounded, ill and injured Active Component and Reserve Component Soldiers and their Families. As a result of this great feedback, my staff is already working to address many of the challenges we encountered.

I toured barracks and saw for the first time virtual reality technology that helps our severely wounded adapt when they return home. At the U.S. Open in New York I met with wounded, ill and injured service members and U.S. Tennis Association representatives.  Physical fitness has always been important to me and this group helped me understand the special role adaptive reconditioning and sports can play in helping Soldiers heal. Our Warrior Games athlete, Army SPC Ryan McIntosh, was particularly impressive.  A positive, determined, and resilient below-the-knee amputee and Soldier, SPC McIntosh represented the Army well as a U.S. Open ball person and also during multiple national media interviews.  I expect to see him compete during the 2013 Warrior Games and very likely in the 2016 Paralympics.

As the WTC Commander and Assistant Surgeon General for Warrior Care, a significant part of my role is to educate, inform, and inspire the Warrior Care and Transition Program team.   Understand that you are all critical to ensuring that we honor our sacred obligation to continue to care for wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers as long as there is a need.

I am privileged to be a member of this team and look forward to serving you and keeping you up-to-date on what’s going on at WTC and throughout the Warrior Care and Transition Program.

Army Strong!

Commander’s Drumbeat: Warrior Transition Command Welcomes New Army Wounded Warrior Program (AW2) Director

By BG Darryl A. Williams, WTC Commander
Yesterday during a ceremony at Fort Belvoir, we passed the directorship of AW2 from one great hero and wounded Soldier, COL Greg Gadson, to COL Timothy Karcher, another wounded Soldier and great hero.

People say to me that it’s a bit unusual to have a ceremony for a command staff director. I agree, but I wanted to do this
to highlight the significance of WTC and its mission, and to also recognize the importance of the AW2 director and what it represents.  In fact, the Secretary of the Army described it best when he was recently quoted as saying, “caring for wounded warriors is a sacred obligation.”

BG Darryl Williams, Warrior Transition Command, Commanding General (center), COL Tim Karcher (left) and COL Greg Gadson (right),enthusiastically sing the 'Army Song' following an Army Wounded Warrior (AW2) program change of directorship ceremony held at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. on June 19.

A lot of people don’t realize that the Army continues its relationship with this population even after they transition from military service.  COL Gadson has been a leader of these efforts.  COL Gadson strengthened that relationship over the past two years as director of AW2.  During that time and under his leadership AW2 flourished and now supports more than 11,000 individuals,9,700 of which are Veterans, the others are assigned to one of the 29 Warrior Transition Units throughout
the United States and Europe.

He’s been an extraordinary AW2 director, father, husband, war hero, in-demand speaker, movie star, and not to mention an inspirational motivator for the New York Giants.  He’s done a superb job.

As a result of his willingness to lead from the front, not only has our leadership taken notice, but so have the media, Congress and public, private, and non-profit organizations.  In a very real way, our nation stepped forward and embraced Greg Gadson and the population he represents.

As he moves on to command Fort Belvoir, I’m very grateful that COL Karcher agreed to accept the challenge that comes along
with being the next AW2 director.  He has held many command and staff positions in the United States and in Europe.

COL Karcher is an impressive officer and Soldier who deployed to Iraq three times. During his second deployment, he was shot in his left arm and evacuated from theater, only to return to complete the deployment with his unit.  During his third deployment while serving in Sadr City, Iraq in 2009, his vehicle was struck by an explosively formed penetrator resulting in the amputation of both legs above the knee. Since then COL Karcher has been recovering at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas.

These two officers are very similar. Both are heroes and role models, both are clearly meant for great things, and both are
at the right place at the right time to represent and advocate for our country’s most severely wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers, Veterans, and their Families.

I feel very fortunate to have had COL Greg Gadson as the AW2 director for the last two years and wish him well in his next
assignment.  We are equally fortunate to have COL Timothy Karcher to pick up and carry the torch for the Army as we continue
to stand by this population of Soldiers, Veterans, and their Families.

I thank COL Gadson from the bottom of my heart for his courage and willingness to serve.  We are all better for knowing him.

As my own tenure as Commander of the Warrior Transition Command rapidly comes to a close,  I’m sorry that I won’t have the opportunity to work with COL Karcher to take AW2 and the Army’s Warrior Care and Transition Program (WTCP) to new
heights, but I believe in him and feel confident the program will flourish under his leadership.

Commander’s Drum Beat: Updates in Warrior Care

By BG Darryl A. Williams, WTC Commander
As we approach the end of this year, I want to catch you all up on the last few weeks. We said good-bye to Army Surgeon General, LTG Erich Schoomaker, a great officer and leader, and a friend and mentor. We welcomed LTG Patricia Horoho as Army Surgeon General. An Army Nurse Corps officer, she is the first woman and first officer who is not a doctor to serve in this position.

I visited the Arkansas Community Based Warrior Transition Unit (CBWTU) where I met with BG William Johnson, Deputy TAG, and CSM Deborah Collins. It was good to sit down with them and talk National Guard issues. I had lunch with nurse case managers and cadre where it was obvious that everyone there cares deeply for our wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers. They are working hard on Release from Active Duty (REFRAD) issues and their dedication is paying off. I always like to spend some time with the WTU Soldiers. The Soldiers in Arkansas let me know how valuable the nurse case managers are at the CBWTU, in their words, “they are passionate and really care.” This extends to the cadre as well. They are an outstanding, enthusiastic group, who created a positive environment. I have to give a shout out to SSG Gary Hopmann; he gave me valuable feedback on the National Intrepid Center of Excellence. It’s an impressive place that provides state of the art assessments and treatments for our men and women in uniform who deal with psychological and brain injury issues.

At Fort Campbell, I had the privilege of participating in the WTB complex ribbon cutting ceremony. The new $31.6 million dollar complex includes rooms for 206 Soldiers, state of the art barracks complete with kitchens, handicap accessible bathrooms, televisions, an outdoor wheelchair obstacle course, and a healing garden. This is an example of the Army’s commitment to our wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers. I was able to meet with several of the Soldiers and their spouses. It’s clear they are going to enjoy the benefits of one-stop shopping and updated facilities. A special shout out goes to the hospital and WTU staff for their hard work and dedication.

Moving on to Fort Drum, I had a good visit with MG Mark Milley, Commander, Fort Drum and 10th Mountain Division. We talked about the WTU, MTF, our processes, and how we support these Soldiers and their Families. This trip was especially interesting on another front, I got to see firsthand the cadre and Physical Evaluation Board Liaison Officers (PEBLOs) remove their gloves, hammer out their differences, and come together on a couple of issues for the good of the Soldiers. That’s what they are about, taking care of their Soldiers. It was good again to hear kudos for nurse case managers, Lori Drake and Maura Jenson. The Soldiers told me, “they’ve got our backs”, and we all know there is no higher praise. A special shout out to WTU commander, LTC Celia Florcruz and Chaplain (CPT) Dave Christensen for their superb work and outstanding commitment to these Soldiers and their Families.

In Pinellas, Florida, I met with MG Robert Kasulke, Commanding General, US Army Reserve Medical Command, and his chief of staff, COL Daniel Ducker. I enjoyed being able to engage them personally on resources, the process of decreasing Medical Evaluation Board (MEB) times, and PEBLO delays. Kudos to SGT Sophia Lopez and SSG Maria Rosado. You all are doing a great job working PEBLO hurdles, VA exams, and disability ratings. I spent some time with our Soldiers at the Polytrauma Center at James A. Haley VA Hospital in Tampa, Florida. These Soldiers are strong and resilient, and have great attitudes. A shout out goes to Dr. Kevin White for all the good work he does in physical and spinal cord injury medicine.

I ended my Florida trip along with Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, GEN Peter Chiarelli, Commander, Third Infantry Division, MG Robert Abrams and about 100 friends and Family members of SGT Joel Tavera. It was a privilege to attend the ceremony where he received a new home from Building Homes for Heroes. This organization gets a huge shout out.

SGT Tavera was injured in Iraq more than three years ago. He is blind, with third-degree burns across 60 percent of his body. He’s undergone 73 surgeries since 2008. There is no greater example of courage or resilience. SGT Tavera is an inspiration. You can read about the ceremony at this link:

Most recently, I attended the Army-Navy Game in Washington, DC, with my family and about 20 WTC staff members. It was a great game, right up until the end.

This catches us up on my travels.

As we come to this year’s end, allow me to say to each of you, I am so proud of the work you have done this year and inspired by your compassion and selfless giving. Thank you for your dedication in caring for our wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers. May your holidays be joyful and safe, and may God bless each of you and your Families this season.

Commander’s Drumbeat: Military Athletes Compete at Warrior Care Month Sitting Volleyball Tournament

Soldiers playing sitting volleyball block at the net

SGT Juan Alcivar, left, and SSG Jessie White block at the net during a sitting volleyball match between the Army and a Pentagon team of Navy Reservists at the Pentagon Athletic Center on Nov. 22. WTC hosted the All-Service Sitting Volleyball Tournament as a part of Warrior Care Month. Photo Credit: James R. Wenzel

By BG Darryl A. Williams, WTC Commander

The energy was off the charts yesterday as the Pentagon Athletic Center filled with people cheering on our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines—Active Duty, Guard, and Reserve—during the Army Warrior Transition Command Warrior Care Month Sitting Volleyball Tournament.  

 Across the Army this month, units and installations have hosted events and engaged local communities and media to highlight warrior care. This tournament was the Army’s Warrior Care Month pinnacle event in the National Capital Region.  I wish all of you could have experienced the excitement of being among so many people joined together celebrating these wounded, ill and injured men and women—celebrating their service, their abilities, and their amazing spirits. Among the attendees were several senior military leaders including the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, Director of Army Staff and the Army Surgeon General. 

 Three of the four sitting volleyball teams were made up of wounded, ill, and injured service members—Army, Marines and a Joint team. The fourth team was a Pentagon team of Navy Reservists. I offer a huge shout out to the Pentagon team—they won the tournament with the Army taking second place. It wasn’t an easy win, these players gave their all.

 Army Sgt. Jonathan Duralde said it best, “The other teams were great; it was especially good to see the strategy of the Pentagon team. For us it was a competition and we were there to play regardless of the teams and regardless who won.”  

 Duralde, a below the knee amputee, wounded in Afghanistan in June 2010, recently reenlisted and is continuing on Active Duty. He is assigned to the Warrior Transition Battalion at Fort Belvoir and will soon start working in the Warrior Transition Command. 

 My biggest shout-out goes to all of the competitors. The tournament was about teamwork, cohesion and esprit d ‘corps. You all exemplify the best part of who we are.

 Not only did we see world class military athletes compete, we were privileged to have world class support and participation at this event. Well deserved shout-outs go to some special people:

  •  John Register, one of our tournament commentators. A Paralympics athlete and Army Veteran, he understands the healing power of sports and the significance it can play in the rehabilitation and recovery of our wounded, ill, and injured.
  •  John Kessel, Managing Director, Region Services, USA Volleyball. Kessel joined Register as a commentator and between the two of them kept everyone up to speed on each and every play with interviews about the power of adaptive sports and reconditioning activities between games.
  •  Kari Miller, a former Soldier who lost both her legs as the result of an auto accident involving a drunk driver, who went on to win a Paralympics silver medal in sitting volleyball in 2008. She taught the athletes the tips and tricks of sitting volleyball and refereed the tournament.
  •  Elliot Blake, Sitting Volleyball and Athlete Recruitment Coordinator, USA Volleyball. He also coached and refereed.
  •  Vic Breseford and his team from the Army Media & Visual Information Directorate. They did a super job with sound and getting us live coverage on DVIDS and the Pentagon Channel.
  •  Defense Media Activity (DMA) supported with visual and print staff.
  •  Candice Barlow-Jones. An invaluable member of the WTC team who lent her exceptional voice to our  national anthem, kicking off the event.

 Congratulations to all of the participants.

 I’d enjoy hearing about your Warrior Care Month plans and experiences. Please post your comments on this blog by clicking on the headline and scrolling to the bottom of the page to the comment box.

More information on events at WTUs around the country is available on the WTC website at

Commander’s Drumbeat: Warrior Care Month

BG Darryl A. WilliamsBy BG Darryl A. Williams, WTC Commander

In November we observe Warrior Care Month. The theme is “Healing the Mind, Body, and Spirit: Unlocking Unlimited Potential”.

Taking care of Soldiers is something we do every day. Observing Warrior Care Month allows us to highlight the significance of keeping Soldiers healthy and safe, and taking care of them when something doesn’t go right. We’re all in the business of caring for the Army’s wounded, ill and injured Soldiers—Active, Guard and Reserve.

I realize most people think of the combat injured when they hear the term ‘warrior care’. Clearly, that is warrior care and there is no higher calling than helping these men and women heal. Warrior care is also preventing illnesses and keeping Soldiers healthy and ready to deploy. Warrior care is arming Soldiers with tourniquets that they can use with only one hand. It’s having the best trained medics in the world standing shoulder to shoulder with our combat Soldiers.

Warrior care is an undertaking that encompasses a broad scope of efforts that extend way beyond the battlefield including managing pain with medication and with complementary medicine such as acupuncture, massage, and yoga. Warrior care means building resilience and ensuring our men and women in uniform are strong in mind, body and spirit. Warrior care is our best researchers looking at how we can advance medicine, improve protective gear and treat trauma and complex injuries. It’s having a battle buddy who looks after you and a leader you can count on.

During Warrior Care Month I ask that you also take time to recognize the men and women who don’t wear the uniform but who support and care for our Soldiers and their families. I’m talking about our partners at the Veterans Administration, Congress, Veterans organizations, non-profit organizations, corporate America, local communities and individual citizens. These are the people retired Admiral Michael Mullen, (former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) was referencing when he said there is a “Sea of Goodwill” in America.

I know a lot of you are planning events to honor the wounded, ill and injured men and women in uniform and to highlight what we do and what this Nation does each day in the spirit of Warrior Care. Like me, you’re likely looking forward to the events you’ll be attending. I’m excited about this month. We have a lot going on here in the National Capital Region. We will support the Navy in a wheelchair basketball expo and clinic in the Pentagon on November 18, and on November 22 the Warrior Transition Command is hosting a seated volleyball tournament. It’s going to be a great month. I’ll be traveling, visiting some WTUs and attending events that honor our Soldiers and people who work to keep them safe and healthy. It doesn’t get any better than this!

As I wrap things up, I want to emphasize my three priorities—education, training and employment. A WTU is a place for Soldiers to heal; it’s also a place for them to plan for their future; a place to develop a good, solid way ahead for them and for their family. When they leave a WTU I want them to have received the best medical care possible, have the education and training they need to succeed and have a job or career lined up.

We owe them our best, and Warrior Care Month is a time to commemorate their strength and resilience and the importance of what we do throughout the year.

I’d enjoy hearing about your Warrior Care Month plans and experiences. Please post your comments on this blog by clicking on the headline and scrolling to the bottom of the page to the comment box.

More information on events at WTUs around the country is available on the WTC website at

Commander’s Drumbeat—The Excitement of AUSA

By BG Darryl A. Williams, WTC Commander

It’s always great to see the Army Family come together.  Last week was a whirlwind of reconnections, fun experiences, and meaningful opportunities.  Sunday started at 0630 with the Army Ten-Miler.  I met with our team for photos, gave them a send-off and met our wounded warriors as they crossed the finish line.  One WTC employee told me that she was excited to run with the Missing Parts in Action team—current and past wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers who received treatment at Walter Reed—and especially enjoyed seeing them leave her in the dust.  Rehabilitation at its best!  The Warrior Transition Command and the Missing Parts teams were both impressive.

BG Darryl Williams, Warrior Transition Command Commander, congratulates world class runners Tesfaqe Sendekee, first overall male finisher, and Tezata Dengera, first overall female finisher at the 2011 Army Ten Miler (ATM) footrace. Both athletes competed for the 'I Run for God' (IR4G) team coached by LTC (Ret.) Sue Bozgoz. Each runner as well as additional IR4G runners donated their ATM trophies to WTC's Army wounded warriors.

I have to give a shout-out to everyone who participated but especially the International Running Team—I Run for God or IR4G.  These men and women ran for wounded warriors and took first place overall, first place in the overall male category, and first, second and third places overall in the female categories.  They very generously presented us their trophies on Thursday.

If you did not participate in the Army Ten-Miler, start making plans now for next year. It is a super event.  I’m already talking to my team about all the ways we can ramp up our presence and get more folks involved. I ran into people I hadn’t seen in years, ate great food, and saw some excellent exhibits.  I even heard some good music and saw a martial arts expo.  It was an all-around festive time with Families, friends, and colleagues—two of my kids were with me and even they had a ball.

You all know that I’m adamant about making it clear that we represent and work for Active Duty, Guard and Reserve.  To build on that—we were fortunate to share a Hooah Tent with Community-Based Warrior Transition Unit (CBWTU) Illinois.  Kudos to all the runners and the volunteers who showed up to share education and information products, and talk to visitors about WTC and what we do every day to support wounded, ill and injured warriors.  They also dished up a load of award-winning chili for runners and spectators—that was a big draw at our tent.

I had such a great time I didn’t think the week could get any better.  Then on Monday I had the privilege of listening to the Secretary of the Army.  While the Secretary did admit budget cuts sometimes keep him up at night, he also told us that unlike in the past, we saw this downturn coming and are better positioned than at any time in our nation’s history to deal with the fiscal realities, and do it in a way that truly makes sense.  He reinforced that part of dealing with these realities is to cut end-strength and that our Army will look different than it does now.  He emphasized that no conflict is ever won without boots on the ground and was confident the Army can handle the challenge of these pending reductions.

He addressed who we are and what we do when he said, “We’re still at war. We work diligently every day to try to make certain they get what they need, to get it when they need it, that we give them all the support they require to build resilience and all the care that’s necessary when they come home.”

For you history buffs, he was right on the money when he referenced  the book “This Kind of War,” and TR Fehrenbach’s passage, “You may fly over land forever, you may bomb it, atomize it, pulverize it, and wipe it clean of life. But if you desire to defend it, protect it and keep it for civilization, you must do this on the ground the way the Roman legions did, by putting your young men into the mud.”  He went on to acknowledge that “Fehrenbach’s observations are as relevant today as they ever were, because while we shocked, while we awed, at the end of the day, we did the most important thing to gain and ensure victory, we marched. And there is no getting around the fact that it is the Army that has been saddled with much of the burden these past years, providing between fifty to seventy percent of our deployable forces. And while I’m loathe to view our men and women in uniform as mere budgetary statistics, I think it’s important to remind people that while the United States Army represents half of our nation’s entire force, we consume only about a quarter to 30 percent of the entire defense budget.”

Later on Monday, I was on a panel with the Army Surgeon General, Deputy Surgeon General, and the FORSCOM Surgeon, Supporting the Deployment of Healthy, Resilient and Fit Soldiers…Soldier Medical Readiness.   There was significant focus on how we identify and deal with non-medically ready Soldiers, and fitness and nutrition.  It felt good to say that we return about 50 percent of our Warrior Transition Unit (WTU) Soldiers to duty and support all our wounded, ill and injured with a personalized Comprehensive Transition Plan  that supports their goals to return to duty or transition out of military service.

Reflecting on the remarks by the Secretary and the Surgeon General on the future and resilience of our Army, I was reminded of who we are and how young we are.  This command is only about two years old and we’ve only had WTUs since 2007.  As the Surgeon General says, we are a learning organization and continuously changing.  Our history is already rich with success and change.  We went from medical hold companies to WTUs; from having no plan to the Army Medical Action Plan; from rehabilitation and therapy to Warrior Games.  Very soon I’ll be sending out the new Comprehensive Transition Plan guidance for coordination and I’ll have new command information product—a newsletter, Warrior Care and Transition Program Update—coming your way soon.

Before I sign off, remember that in November we will celebrate Warrior Care Month across the Army.  I want you all to be fully engaged as this is the most important monthly observance we have.  The Warrior Care Month joint-service theme is “Healing the Mind, Body, and Spirit: Unlocking Unlimited Potential.”  You all know better than anybody what this means and that these men and women embody strength and resilience.  They are the products of prevention and research that resulted in more survivors of combat injures than ever before.  My three priorities for these men and women are education, training, and careers.  Let’s show the world who we are next month and what we do every day to support those who have given so much.  It’s a time to highlight our wounded, ill and injured—Active, Guard and Reserve, and the people who support them.

I’d enjoy hearing about your Army Ten-Miler, AUSA experience and plans for Warrior Care Month.  What stood out, and what we can do better on next year.  Please post your comments on this blog by clicking on the headline and scrolling to the bottom of the page to the comment box.

In closing, I would recommend you check out the remarks of the Secretary and Chief of Staff of the Army during the annual AUSA meeting.

Commander’s Drumbeat: One More Round

By BG Darryl A. Williams, WTC Commander

Herschel Walker visits with Soldiers

Herschel Walker visits with military personnel at the WCTP Training Conference in Orlando.

We’ve worked hard this week at the Warrior Care and Transition Program (WCTP) Training Conference, and folks were getting tired. We needed a little something, a little boost. Boy did we get it – in the form of Herschel Walker. This guy is awesome. He has a message I wish every Soldier and Family member could hear: “We can go one more round.” Most of you probably know that he is a Heisman Trophy winner, played for the New Jersey Generals, Dallas Cowboys, Minnesota Vikings, and the Philadelphia Eagles. What you may not know is that he suffered from dissociative identity disorder, dealt with extreme anger, and threatened others with physical violence of which he had no memory. He sought psychotherapy treatment and made his illness public to encourage others to seek help.

His story is peppered with references to his strong Christian faith and with sports anecdotes. With each demon he had to confront, he told himself, “I can go one more round.” One thing that struck a chord with the team at this conference was how he addressed stigma. In the Army, we talk a lot about stigma—the stigma associated with seeking behavioral health care. It’s something we want to wipe out, something we want to overcome. Herschel’s message is that stigma doesn’t really exist when you know who you are and what you have to do. It is something used to make others feel less than who they are. When you know who you are and what to do, stigma doesn’t matter.

He also emphasized the importance of support networks and admitted that some people bailed on him when he went public. It didn’t matter, the people supporting him were the ones he needed. Getting better, getting free from his illness was what was important. He credits his ex-wife and pastor for getting him through the dark days. Herschel said there are times when you don’t think you can get up, times when you don’t think you can make it, and that’s when you need someone there to encourage you—to tell you that you can make it.

To me, his most compelling message is that maybe more important than telling people to seek help, is if you see a friend or family member struggling—go to them. Go to them because when they get to that really low point, they can’t see anything else. Help that friend or family member go one more round.

Herschel is also vocal about the importance of physical and mental fitness and how they go together. He understands it is important mentally to be able to know and understand your surroundings and that if you are physically fit you have the energy to adapt.

He shared that he considered a military career before he was recruited by Coach Vince Dooley at the University of Georgia. Herschel proudly admits he feels a connection with servicemembers because we have the ability to overcome and adapt in a lot of different situations. He compared the football team to the military saying that teamwork is how things get done.

Walker, who in his life has felt like he was not going to make it, wants Soldiers to know that they will make it. That there is no such thing as I can’t ; no such thing as I will give up; no such thing as I will quit. We can go one more round.

It’s clear my job as a senior leader is to create conditions where all of our Soldiers and their Families feel supported and part of a team—a team that can go one more round.


Commander’s Drumbeat: Partnering to Face Our Challenges – Warrior Care and Transition Program Training Conference

By BG Darryl A. Williams, WTC Commander

John R. Campbell, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Wounded Warrior Care and Transition Policy

John R. Campbell, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Wounded Warrior Care and Transition Policy, cited the Comprehensive Transition Plan as a very tangible example of the positive work done through the Warrior Care and Transition Program.

We are on a roll here in Orlando, FL. My staff did a super job planning this conference! More than 1,000 attendees spent the first two days training on the Comprehensive Transition Plan. When they return home they can help us standardize the transition planning process across the Army. Today we’re on to training segments focusing on interdisciplinary team members and warrior care improvement including: comprehensive pain management, adaptive sports, polypharmacy, force structure models, and internship opportunities.

We started the day with a presentation by John R. Campbell, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Wounded Warrior Care and Transition Policy. I have to say, he is a super advocate for the wounded, ill, and injured, and for the military and civilian men and women who take care of them. He made it clear he understands the challenges Soldiers face while coping with posttraumatic stress and the challenges of successful transitions back to the force or of leaving the military.

It’s great to know that we are definitely on the same page and moving in the same direction. We are both energized about education and employment for our Soldiers who transition out of military service. Mr. Campbell captured it perfectly when he said that “long after the guns are silenced, we have not succeeded if all of America does not hear the silence of the drums of war as a deafening call to action–a call to help lead our wounded warriors, the next greatest generation, into the classrooms as teachers, into the board rooms as executives, into their communities as small business owners and entrepreneurs , and into the lives of all Americans as leaders in their communities, their government, and back to their military to help others along the way.”

He reflected on his generation of Veterans who didn’t have the support they needed to overcome challenges and vowed it is a scenario he refuses to see repeated. Following his remarks, I had the opportunity to meet today with Warrior Transition Unit (WTU) commanders and NCOs; then with doctors, nurses case managers, social workers, pharmacists, physical therapists, and occupational therapists.

The reason I’m sharing this with you is twofold. One, to let you know that leaders in the warrior care arena, military and civilian, like me and like Mr. Campbell, are committed to providing the best possible support to today’s wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers. Second, the meeting with this group of WTU medical professionals was historic. It was the first time we got them all together, and they are an extraordinarily dedicated and impressive group who deserve a shout out! They do good work, they change lives, they are critical to the success of our wounded, ill, and injured warriors. They also realize that Families are integral to the success of Warriors in Transition and that they need and deserve the same care and attention we provide their loved ones.

I feel confident—and you should too—that together with Mr. Campbell’s office and with our partners the Marines, Navy, Air Force, and Veterans Administration, we can continue to improve and leverage resources internally and in local communities. An example of this is Judith Markelz. Mr. Campbell recognized her during his remarks so on behalf of the Army and Mr. Campbell, I too want to recognize her in this forum. She runs the Warrior and Family Support Center in San Antonio, TX. Ms. Markelz saw a need for a place where warriors and their Families could go to find resources, counseling, and a respite from their worries. She built the center from the ground up and people noticed. In 2008 $4 million was donated to the center for expansions, renovations, and improvements. It provides services to Soldiers and their Families and didn’t cost the Army a dime. So, kudos to Judith Markelz for her dedication, enthusiasm, and her selfless contributions to our wounded, ill, and injured warriors and their Families.

Folks, the bottom line here is that we’ve made great strides and we can continue to improve because our fight goes on. Know that I’ll stand with you to meet the challenges. Hooah.

Army Homefront Fund

By BG Darryl A. Williams, WTC Commander

BG Darryl A. Williams

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

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

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

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

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

For more information about the Army Homefront Fund, visit or visit the following link for other supporting programs,

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

By Alan Morales, WTC Stratcom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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