Trainers help wounded warriors get fit
Fitness specialist Leander Townsend talks with Staff Sgt. Calvin Gomez during a Warrior Transition Unit fitness session at the Wiesbaden Fitness Center.

WIESBADEN, Germany - "Wounded."
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It's a scary word, said Leander Townsend, a physical trainer with the Wiesbaden Fitness Center.
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Easing into the routine of a light jog after a back injury or completing a squat exercise while still remembering the limp from a knee injury can be a tentative experience for Soldiers transitioning back to the military force or to veteran status.
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"When injuries happen we should do everything we can (to help Soldiers recover)," said Townsend.
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For the past seven months, Townsend has been working with wounded and injured Soldiers pushing them through circuit trainings, running exercises and personal training.
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Townsend's work is done in conjunction with the U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden's Warrior Transition Unit.
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In 2007 the Army created 35 WTUs at Army installations - the units were intended to fill a gap in support personnel for wounded Soldiers. In the WTU system each Soldier is assigned a triad of care - a squad leader, nurse case manager and primary care physician.
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By 2008 the WTU system's caseload doubled from 6,000 to 12,000 Soldiers.
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Helping Soldiers regain their physical fitness footing after injury isn't a new idea. But Townsend and Wiesbaden WTU officials say this is one of the first times a transition unit has partnered with a fitness center to help Soldiers transition back into fitness.
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"As you can see, (Townsend) really put a hurting on us," said WTU Soldier Staff Sgt. Gary Kennemore as he finished up his run on a fitness center treadmill.
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Minutes before in the center's gymnasium, Kennemore and fellow WTU Soldier Staff Sgt. Calvin Gomez worked through circuit training - exercises such as squats, lunges, raises, bicep curls and the bosu plank all done at a pace and repetition suitable to their recovering bodies.
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Wearing a weighted vest, Gomez is working out as part of rehabilitation to build up his back muscles from an injury.
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"It helps; it does (help)," said Gomez of the training with Townsend. "After any medical treatment, it helps with the rehabilitation."
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Townsend said he sees the 10 or so Soldiers he works with every month as warriors in transition.
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"You have a heart for all of them - ones that want to stay in - the ones that want it both ways. My main concern is to help these Soldiers," said Townsend.
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WTU officials approached the Wiesbaden Fitness Center personal trainers in June 2009 about starting the program.
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The concept for the program was conceived during a triad of care meetings that involved a physical therapist and the Wiesbaden WTU's nurse care manager, squad leader and primary care manager.
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"The idea came from what can they (the WTU Soldiers) do as far as fitness," said Sgt. 1st Class Sonny Valdez.
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But whether Soldiers are returning to the force or moving back to civilian life, Townsend said the fitness training is another aspect of helping Soldiers transition.
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"They feel somebody cares," said Townsend. "It's not just 'come over here. Let's do this. Let's get going.' What we do here is important because once they leave they may not get (this kind of conditioning). Some would just be lost without it."

Page last updated Tue February 23rd, 2010 at 02:31