Warrior Transition Unit helps Soldiers recover, return to duty
June 16, 2008
SCHWEINFURT, Germany -- Soldiers in need of complex medical care or facing medical separation or reclassification due to their health or physical status now find the support they need within Warrior Transition Units.
WTUs offer Soldiers an opportunity to focus on their primary mission of healing while maintaining Army discipline and standards.
"This is a real Army unit. We will promote you. We will demote you. We will send you to the board," said Capt. Michael Weisman, Bavaria WTU company commander. The WTU will also help Soldiers return to duty if possible.
One of those Soldiers is Sgt. Scott Lombardi, a 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Soldier who was injured during a night mission.
"I fell from a cliff in Afghanistan," the sergeant explained. Lombardi tumbled nearly 60 feet, suffering multiple injuries that required his medical evacuation from the country. He is awaiting orders that will reassign him back to 1-91st now that he's been cleared to return to duty.
"I actually want to try out for Special Forces," Lombardi said.
Spc. Angel Gomez was injured Bradley fighting vehicle accident in Iraq in April 2007 while serving with the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry. Gomez suffered whiplash and Traumatic Brain Injury. Yet Gomez reenlisted for four years, and will soon move on to an assignment at Fort Benning, Ga.
Not all WTU Soldiers are injured in Iraq of Afghanistan, however. Sgt. Aaron Henry moved to the WTU after being diagnosed with a hernia.
"The healing process was going to take time, no matter what," Henry said. He said he hopes to return to the 1st Battalion, 2nd Infantry to lead Soldiers again.
Although not all Soldiers in the WTU will return to duty, many need only time and resources to help them heal and the determination to remain in the Army.
One of those Soldiers is Spc. Jacob Brock of the 9th Engineer Battalion.
Brock, who was injured by an explosively formed projectile while attached to the 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry in Iraq in June 2007, was facing medical separation for his injuries, which include a finger that he can not fully bend.
"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 (return me to duty). I need to get back on the line, get back in the unit," Brock said. Brock reenlisted in Iraq for 6 years and is awaiting orders to Fort Campbell, Ky. and the 101st Airborne Division.
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 arrived at the WTU in March, competed in the Bavaria Medical Department Activity Soldier of the Month board. Cassidy won.
"He did so well, I was asked why he wasn't going to the promotion board," said Quinn.
Cassidy and Brock have continued their careers and are now promotable.
"The WTU encourages us to do anything we can to advance ourselves," Cassidy said.