BG Gary Cheek, WTC Commander
This week at the WTC Winter Conference we have been focused on Comprehensive Transition Plans (CTPs) and how they will help our Soldiers and their Families. Lonnie Moore, WTC Career and Employment Branch Program Analyst, brought home the importance of having a plan in his speech “Disability to Ability.” You see, Lonnie is a wounded warrior and he has firsthand knowledge and experience in why setting measurable, attainable, and time-driven goals is so important.
Lonnie told us how when he was wounded in 2004, he felt he had lost his identity as a Soldier and was so ashamed of his amputation that he did not want his young son to see him. In short he felt labeled, as if people would only see his disability and not his ability. Through the support of his Family, peer support from a Vietnam Veteran, and involvement in adaptive sports he began to make positive changes towards transition and reintegration into a new life.
It was not an overnight transition or all sunshine and roses. Eight months after being injured, and admittedly in a low period in his life, Lonnie was invited by a non-profit organization to an adaptive skiing event in Breckenridge, CO. As he told it, he skied down the mountain twice, falling several times, and thinking he just couldn’t do this. But each time, he went back to the top and started over again. On the third run down the mountain—he didn’t fall. For the first time since his injury he felt he could do anything he put his mind to.
Nine months post-injury, Lonnie had some hard decisions to make, and a trip to an adaptive sports clinic helped him realize it was time to start setting goals and moving forward. He was a third generation Army Soldier, who had planned on an Army career that would culminate in becoming a Battalion Commander, but he made the tough decision to transition to the civilian world. He sat down and created his own CTP, he set measurable and attainable goals, and put his transition on a timeline.
Lonnie believes that we can use the CTP to “train” Soldiers to prepare for transition, and so do I. He exhorted the attendees at this week’s conference to “look at abilities and not disabilities” to make this process work for all of our Soldiers, and I think that’s excellent advice.