FORT CAMPBELL, KY -- FEB 20, 2009 -- Accompanied by America's top military leader, Fort Campbell officials today marked two health care milestones: the groundbreaking for the first world-class Soldier and Family Assistance Center and the signing of the Army Warrior Health Care Covenant.

Adm. Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was an honored guest at the dual purpose ceremony that capped his first visit to the installation. The event was held near the corner of Indiana Avenue and 20th Street, the future site of the $5 million SFAC facility.

The center and the Warrior Transition Battalion Complex that will be built up around it are "critical" to meeting commitments to Wounded Warriors and their families, Mullen said.

Mullen also cheered the breaking news from Garrison Commander Col. Frederick Swope that the $43 million for the Warrior Transition Battalion complex, which will include barracks and headquarters facilities, was going to be included in President Barack Obama's recent economic stimulus.

Should the funding come that quickly -Swope cautioned that it was yet not a certainty-construction of the entire complex could begin as soon as this year.

The new SFAC is expected to open by 2010. Next February, the services and resources for Wounded Warriors will move from an old converted bank building into a model facility.

The Army Corps of Engineers designed its 15,000 square feet of office suites, event hall and child activity center. Better Built Construction Services was awarded the construction contract. SFAC Director Mike Britton said the new facility offers much more space than existing accommodations. When the entire complex is complete, the SFAC can more practically function as a "hub" of the whole WTU community, Britton said.

WTU services are currently spread across four main locations. Centralizing them all on one campus will enhance collaboration necessary to help Soldiers transition successfully, said SFAC spokesman and noncommissioned officer in charge, Staff Sgt. Forbess.

"We are the one stop shop for them," Forbess said. "We offer so many different services. Human resources, Veteran's Administration, social services, Wounded Warrior programs, etc. Now all of them are in one spot."

Mullen said he made it a point to speak with some of the 513 Soldiers now assigned to Fort Campbell's WTB. The Soldiers were eager, either to get back to their units or to move into the workplace.

"These people want their lives back," Mullen said. "Our commitment to them is that they meet that (goal) because they really are heroic young people who sacrifice greatly."

Mullen led 101st Airborne Division and Fort Campbell leaders in signing in a health care covenant.

The document acknowledges the contributions of Warriors and their families and pledges to provide the care, programming and environment needed for healing.

Col. Richard Thomas, commander of Blanchfield Army Community Hospital, called the ceremony a rededication to the "sacred mission" of taking care of Soldiers and their families.

Page last updated Fri February 20th, 2009 at 22:53