WTU Supports, Promotes, Returns Soldiers to Duty
June 16, 2008
SCHWEINFURT, Germany - Soldiers needing complex medical care and those facing medical separation or career field reclassification due to health or physical status can find the support they need within Warrior Transition Units located in Europe as well as stateside.
Far from being a place for "broken" Soldiers to go, WTUs offer Soldiers an opportunity to focus on their primary mission of healing, while still maintaining Army discipline and standards.
"This is an ... Army unit." said Capt. Michael Weisman, Bavaria WTU company commander, explaining that it processes the same personnel actions that any service organization would - promotions, demotions, board referrals.
And the WTU will, if possible, help Soldiers return to duty.
Soldiers like Sgt. Scott Lombardi, a 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Soldier who was injured during a night mission in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
"I fell from a cliff in Afghanistan," said Lombardi, recalling how he tumbled nearly 60 feet, suffering multiple injuries that required evacuation from theater. Currently, he is awaiting orders for reassignment to the 1-91 CAV as he's been cleared to return to duty.
Now, "I ... want to try out for Special Forces," Lombardi said.
Spc. Angel Gomez was injured in Iraq in April 2007 while serving with the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry. During a combat-related Bradley vehicle accident, Gomez suffered whiplash and traumatic brain injury. Gomez re-enlisted for four years, and will complete a permanent change of station move to Fort Benning, Ga., soon.
Not all WTU Soldiers were injured downrange. Sgt. Aaron Henry, for example, joined the WTU after being diagnosed with a hernia.
"The healing process was going to take time, no matter what," Henry said. Once he officially returns to 1st Battalion, 2nd Infantry, he hopes to lead Soldiers again.
And although not every Soldier in the WTU will or is able to return to duty, for those who do, many need only the time and resources to help them heal, and the determination to remain in the Army - like Spc. Jacob Brock, a 9th Engineer Soldier.
Brock, who was injured in June 2007 by an explosively formed projectile while attached to the 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry, was facing medical separation for his injuries, which include a finger that he can not fully bend now.
"He told them to cut it off, if that was all that was keeping him back," said WTU 1st Sgt. Ron Quinn.
"I told them to (classify me as RTD); I need to get back on the line, get back in the unit," said Brock, who reenlisted in Iraq for six years, and will PCS to Fort Campbell, Ky., and the 101st Airborne once his orders process.
Soldiers looking to continue their Army career while in the WTU - such as Brock, Henry, Lombardi, and Gomez - are given every opportunity and resource to succeed, said Weisman.
Brock and Spc. Jonathan Cassidy, a 2nd Battalion, 28th Infantry Soldier who reported to the WTU in March, both recently participated in the Bavaria Medical Department Activity Soldier of the Month board - with Cassidy earning top honors.
"He did so well, I was asked why he wasn't going to the promotion board," said Quinn, as Cassidy and Brock did attend a subsequent board and are now promotable.
"The WTU encourages us to do anything we can to advance ourselves," Cassidy said.