Making a Splash, Having a Ball
Sgt. Leslie Raphael attempts to dunk 1st Sgt. Alfonso Phillips into the water tank during the Fort Lee Warrior Transition Unit's anniversary celebration July 2. She was not successful, although 8-year-old Haden Craig (not pictured) was able to hit the mark and send the first sergeant into the water resulting in cheers from the spectators.

Fort Lee, Va. (July 9, 2008) -- A one year anniversary is something to commemorate. Whether it's a newlywed couple or a start-up company, making one year is a milestone that many won't forget.

The Fort Lee Warrior Transition Unit celebrated its one year conception on July 2, and Capt. David Payne, WTU commander, said the WTU is ingrained in his heart forever.

"I stood up one year ago and received command of the WTU," said Payne. "We took control of the Army's most precious inventory - our Soldiers."

Payne and more than 100 Soldiers, friends, and Family members participated in an array of activities ranging from baseball to volleyball at a picnic geared for WTU Soldiers.

"Today is a great day for many reasons," said Sgt. Chris Pantzke. "We are all participating in activities where we can heal together."
Patzke, a part of the WTU for nearly six months, said being in the WTU has reduced his stress because the leadership genuinely cares for the Soldiers.

Platoon Sgt. Shawn Hobbs is responsible for 39 of the 81 Soldiers currently in the WTU.

"I help to ensure accountability and responsibility," said Hobbs, "from helping to make appointments to checking on them if they're on medication."

Hobbs said that prior to the WTU, Soldiers were often left out in the ranks where most of their companies lacked the knowledge to properly handle wounded warriors. "We help to educate, motivate, and ensure their optimum care."

Hobbs is one of 20 cadre in the WTU. The cadre, or training staff, consists of both Civilians and Active- Duty including physicians, nurses, squad leaders, platoon sergeants and mental health professionals. Their unified mission is to help Soldiers either progress back into the military or to civilian life.

"We want our Soldiers here to get better and to be successful," said Payne. "If they're transitioning out to the civilian world, we want them to go out and make an impact."
Payne said all the decisions that are made by the leadership within the WTU have a direct impact on the Soldier or their Family.

"When a Soldier says the WTU took care of them, they are speaking for the Army," said Payne.
T
he anniversary celebration was a success according to Payne, giving the Soldiers an opportunity to gather as a group and have fun together.

"It's nice to celebrate events with these people because we have so much in common," said Sgt. Leslie Raphael. "Being in the WTU is a turning point in most of our lives. Being here allows us to focus on our mission to rehabilitate while recovering in peace."

Page last updated Wed July 9th, 2008 at 16:38