Warrior Transition Battalion celebrates Soldiers, Army birthday
June 17, 2011
FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska - Dozens of Soldiers, family members and staff from B Company, Warrior Transition Battalion - Alaska joined with community members at the Zone on Fort Wainwright Tuesday to honor wounded warriors and the Army.
A celebration of the Army’s 236th birthday set the backdrop for the event that featured a brief lesson on Army history, birthday cake, games and activities for children, a cookout and even a visit by members of the Fairbanks Grizzlies indoor football team.
Fort Wainwright’s B/WTB is a unique organization specifically tailored to wounded warriors who are either transitioning into civilian life or back into an Army unit after healing from injuries or illnesses.
“The WTB is almost like a one-stop shop for all of the Soldiers,” said Sgt. 1st Class John Knott, 2nd Platoon sergeant, B/WTB. “From a personal aspect, I think this (unit) is one of the most important things available in the Army. I personally have experienced what these Soldiers go through because I was injured. I came to the WTB and it was the best place for a Soldier coming home from a war to reintegrate.”
Knott, who was injured in Iraq while assigned to 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division during the brigade’s last deployment, is now assigned to the unit as a member of the cadre. He said B/WTB offers wounded Soldiers invaluable support and assistance when they need it most.
“I don’t know how to fully describe the kind of support you get here,” he said.
“I’m getting back in the fight; not doing what I used to do, but I think this work is really rewarding.”
Because of the unique needs and mission of the WTB, unit leaders strive to create events that bring their Soldiers and families together on a regular basis.
Tuesday’s event was a perfect example of those types of events, said Marie Schoemaker, B/WTB family readiness support assistant.
“Events like this keep the morale going for Soldiers and families,” she said.
“This is a different kind of unit. We have more of a family support group than a family readiness group. We just support the families and Soldiers as they go through their transition to civilian life or back to their units.”
Sgt. Douglas Fisher, a warrior in transition in B/WTB, is recovering from cancer and working to reintegrate back into an Army unit. He said he has been surprised at all B/WTB has offered.
“I didn’t have a clue what the WTB was before,” he said. “I always thought it was for those who were getting out of the Army. I didn’t know it was for those who will return to duty, too.”
In addition to highlighting all that B/WTB does for wounded Soldiers and their families, Capt. Charlea Allen, B/WTB commander, said Tuesday’s event was designed to honor the Army. “It’s very important for us to celebrate the Army’s birthday today,” she said. “Patriotism shouldn’t be only when you’re deployed; it should be every day. This is just a wonderful day to show your patriotism and get together with the people who make this Army successful and that’s the Soldiers and families.”
Allen said inviting community members like players from the Fairbanks Grizzlies made the event even more special.
Kenny Viser, Reno, Nev., native and Grizzlies corner back, volunteered to spend the day with B/WTB Soldiers and families Tuesday.
“I’m here hanging out with the troops,” he said. “It’s my first time on an actual base. I couldn’t miss this opportunity. It’s very important to bring together the community. Soldiers fight for us so it’s really important for us to show our support for them.”
Tuesday’s Army birthday celebration and other unit events build the B/WTB team, Allen said.
“Events like these bring families together; our whole team,” she explained. “Our team is not just the warriors and the staff. Our team is the warriors, the staff and the families.”
The team drives the mission and according to Allen, no mission in the Army is greater than that of B/WTB.
“There is no better (priority) than to take care of the most important factor in the military and that’s the Soldiers,” she said.