Warrior Transition Office Focuses on Soldiers, Families
January 9, 2008
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Jan. 9, 2008) - The deputy director of the Warrior Transition Office pledged Tuesday that his office, medical officials and Warrior Transition Unit cadre will always listen to concerns wounded warriors and their Families might have about their care.
Lt. Col. Chip Pierce told Soldiers Radio and Television in an interview Tuesday that one of the lessons the Army Medical Department has learned as a result of the Army Medical Action Plan is that it didn't have a system in place last year to listen to patients and their Families.
"It wasn't that anyone was trying to rush anyone else through the system, but we weren't looking at the entire process through their eyes," he said. "Now we have, we believe, a system in place to better understand what's going through our patients' lives and understand it through their own stories.
"We're also looking at continued ways to better the administrative efficiency and cut out some of the additional red tape that we're running across. Sometimes we don't know what we don't know, and it takes a customer letting us know just exactly what is going on and how it affects them. We want to make sure that all of our cadre members, every member of our team, are fully prepared to listen and act on behalf of those Soldiers and their Families, and we're trying to get the word out that they are an advocate of change," he added.
The 35 WTUs Armywide currently have approximately 8,900 wounded warriors and 1,500 cadre assigned to them. Many of the WTU cadre have volunteered for their assignments, and each officer or noncommissioned officer goes through an interview process before he or she is selected.
Each wounded warrior is also assigned a primary care manager, a nurse case manager and a squad leader to ensure no Soldier falls through the cracks. They even follow up with Soldiers after they return to their units or transfer to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
"We're crossing the entire spectrum of care from healthcare to administrative and leadership care," said Lt. Col. Pierce. "The triad works as a comprehensive team together with the Soldier and the Soldier's Family so that no question is left unanswered and each member of the triad fully understands the implications of the care treatment and administration for the Soldiers."
Every WTU and medical treatment facility also has an ombudsman who is available to answer questions and address concerns, but Lt. Col. Pierce stressed that everyone at an Army hospital is an advocate for Soldiers and will get them help if they speak up.
According to Lt. Col. Pierce, it's important for Families to be at a Soldiers' bedsides as soon as possible, as their cases are being reviewed and treatment plans are being developed, so they can really understand what is going on and participate in their Soldiers' treatments. He said that in some cases Families can even help with physical therapy, with amazing results.
"What we're finding out is that the results are far greater, far faster than ever before. It boosts the morale of the Soldier and, quite frankly, we understand that it's tough on the Family, and we try to address that as best we can and encourage the Family to hang in there with us through some tough times for their Soldier, and to be strong for their Soldier through the healing process," he said.
The AMAP has a simple yardstick for success: "Is it good for our Families' Is it good for our Soldiers' If it is, then that's what we use and we look to see how to make it even better," said Lt. Col. Pierce. "If the measure of success is just good enough, it's not good enough for us. We want to be providing the very best care. We want to be providing the very best people to care for our nation's wounded warriors."