Warrior transition unit commander speaks to healthcare professionals
April 23, 2010
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, April 23, 2010) -- A unit at Fort Benning, Ga., is using technology to develop an enhanced comprehensive transition plan for all wounded warriors.
The Warrior Transition Unit commander, Lt. Col. Sean Mulcahey, briefed personnel from all military branches gathered at the 2nd Annual Military Health Support Systems conference April 20-22.
The conference focused on the medical challenges facing deployed forces. Beginning with a workshop on suicide prevention, the next two days were filled with speakers knowledgeable on topics such as resiliency, traumatic brain injury and warrior transition units.
Mulcahey ended the conference by discussing community reintegration of combat veterans. Mulcahey said there are 360 Soldiers currently in the WTU at Fort Benning, all at various stages of recovery.
Focusing on the use of technology and how it adds in tracking the recovery of Soldiers, Mulcahey described it as "lifting the fog," allowing commanders to make use of necessary resources.
"As a battalion commander, I'm looking across all 360 Soldiers to determine the needs and issues," said Mulcahey. "When you're down where the rubber meets the road, how do you take all those resources and programs, and match them up to those Soldiers' needs'"
Mulcahey said a big part of recovery involves leadership commitment and he noted it comes from top down.
"Leadership motivates, inspires and creates opportunities," said Mulcahey.
To clear the fog, Mulcahey said it is necessary to define and measure success, and gain 100-percent visibility of all the Soldiers. Ensuring Soldiers and their families' aspects and expectations are realistic is another key part of a success.
"If Soldiers don't understand the programs, standards and opportunities, and likewise, if we don't understand the Soldiers' expectations and desires, then there sometimes are misplaced expectations," said Mulcahey.
Mulcahey said the unit uses a comprehensive transition plan, a 14-point plan which includes goals and milestones, self-assessment, a transition track and other areas that lead to successful recovery.
Soldiers meet on a weekly basis with their squad leaders and medical professionals to update their assessment areas before transitioning. Functional assessments are measured and tracked in red ("show-stoppers"), amber ("dealing with it but some issues") and green ("good-to-go").
Mulcahey said by tracking these, commanders can take the information and leverage necessary resources, such as chaplain intervention or medical help.
"Spending time with the Soldiers is important because it provides honest feedback," said Mulcahey.
Mulcahey said spouses and significant others are encouraged to participate in the transition and become involved.
As the process moves forward and becomes more refined, Mulcahey said they are looking at hosting the comprehensive transition plan on Army Knowledge Online.