Mullen Assesses Warrior Transition Unit at Fort Stewart
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
FORT STEWART, Ga., Jun. 12, 2008 Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, toured the new Warrior Transition Unit here yesterday and met with wounded troops to hear how the Army is ensuring they get the best care and support possible.
U.S. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, visits with soldiers assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division, and handed out coins after holding an all-hands call at Fort Stewart, Ga., June 11, 2008. Defense Dept. photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Mullen, here for a full day of sessions with junior soldiers, noncommissioned officers, junior and mid-grade officers and family members, stopped by the Warrior Transition Unit campus that stood up a year ago to hear firsthand how it’s working.
As Mullen met privately with the soldiers, Army Lt. Col. Tyra White, who commands the Warrior Transition Battalion, explained the concept that has made medical hold units a thing of the past. The 586 wounded and recuperating soldiers assigned to the unit are called “warriors in transition,” with one single mission: healing.
The Fort Stewart unit is one of 35 the Army stood up in the wake of problems discovered at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington. The units provide command and control to ensure transitioning soldiers get proper medical care and additional services they need as they complete medical evaluations and prepare for a return to active duty or civilian life, White said.
A “triad” of care, including a primary-care manager, nurse case manager and squad leader, provides personal attention at every turn and coordinates closely to ensure no detail falls through the cracks, she said.
Army Col. Jack Collins, commander of Winn Army Community Hospital, said the team approach underscores the Army’s emphasis on helping warriors in transition succeed. “It’s our No. 1 priority, and this is all about creating a healing environment,” he said.
“This is one-stop shopping,” White said of the Warrior Transition Unit complex, now located in refurbished National Guard buildings but to be replaced with a new, permanent facility next year.
“What we have here is wonderful,” White said. We have occupational therapy, nurse case managers, doctors who come here, a town hall once a month. It’s all right here.”
Mullen told reporters he’s happy with broad strides the Army has taken to ensure its wounded troops get the care and services they need.
“These are individuals and families who have paid an incredible price to defend our country. We have asked them to go into harm’s way. They have done what their country has asked, and I think every effort needs to be made to make sure that they are well taken care of,” he said. “The entire nation owes these troops a debt that can never be repaid fully.”
An integrated effort by the Defense Department, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the country as a whole needs to look out for these troops to “make sure they are OK for the rest of their lives,” he said.
While ensuring the top-notch medical care they receive is sustained over time, this integrated support network must ensure transitioning troops recognize that “their American dream is still achievable,” he said.