Highest level of leadership ensures wounded warriors get help they need
December 9, 2011
FORT HOOD, Texas--"We made a commitment to the men and women who volunteer and wear the cloth of this great nation to care for them in the event they become wounded, ill or injured in combat, and we're keeping that promise," stated Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, Army vice chief of staff.
The importance of that promise is not lost on the senior leadership at Fort Hood, which boasts one of the largest Warriors in Transition (WT) populations in the Army.
"We are absolutely committed to providing the care and assistance our wounded warriors deserve. Our intent is to take care of all of their wounds, visible and not visible, and help them transition either back to the force or to fulfilling lives in the private sector," said Lt. Gen. Donald Campbell, Jr., III Corps and Fort Hood commanding general.
To ensure Warrior Transition Units (WTU) have sufficient resources to meet the requirements of care and support required by all WT and their family members, Campbell meets monthly as part of the Triad of Leadership to review and discuss Soldiers' eligibility to be assigned to the WTU.
Triads of Leadership, comprised of the senior commander at the installation, military treatment facility commander and WTU commander, were initiated as part of the Army Medical Action Plan (AMAP) to develop a balanced WTU structure at each installation that is enduring, expandable, collapsible, and responsive to the medical needs of every WT.
"Our goal is to ensure that every wounded, injured or ill Soldier gets the appropriate care to help them heal and recover," said Col. Patrick Sargent. As commander of Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center, Sargent weighs in at each monthly Triad of Leadership meeting at Fort Hood, providing insight as to the hospital's resources to address the diverse medical needs of Soldiers that are medically not-ready. "We provide world-class health care to each warrior, whether they have multiple, complex medical issues or less serious wounds or injuries."
The Triad reviews each Soldier's case independently, and makes a determination if the Soldier needs long-term care and extensive case management services provided within the WTU, or if the Soldier can continue to recover and heal at the unit level using the standard health care system.
Soldiers must meet specific eligibility criteria to be assigned to a WTU. According to the Warriors In Transition Consolidated Policy Guidance, Soldiers must have a profiled medical condition that precludes the Soldier from training or contributing to unit mission for more than six months. The Soldier's medical condition must require clinical case management to organize complex treatment plans and ensure appropriate, timely and effective utilization and access to healthcare services.
Before cases get to the Triad, candidates' commanders must complete a packet to start the application process. The Fort Hood Warrior Transition Brigade (WTB) Surgeon, Maj. Robert Collins, reviews each candidate's complete medical history and circumstances.
"Initially, I don't review the information provided within the nomination packet. I want to provide each candidate's case an unbiased and comprehensive review. This review can only be accomplished properly without influence," Collins said, adding that he looks at all factors involved such as medical complexity, projected timelines, available resources and retainability to help him determine if the candidate meets eligibility requirements.
Collins then compares his findings to the information provided within the Soldier's nomination packet. His collaborative findings are then reviewed with the hospital commander and clinical services leadership and the WTB commander before being presented to the Triad. All cases, even those that have been determined not to meet eligibility requirements, are sent forward for consideration at the Triad meeting.
"It's not just a matter of rubber-stamping 'no or no-go.' The Triad is a discussion group, where all entities involved have the opportunity to provide input to the individual cases," Collins said. "There may be cases during the review process first identified as not meeting entry criteria, however, open dialogue and further disclosure may actually demonstrate a Soldier's entry into the program is warranted. The ultimate goal is to ensure every aspect of the Soldier's unique case is considered."
Soldiers should be confident that the Triad's determinations are not arbitrary, nor are they made based on quotas or accessibility to care, according to Sargent.
"The success of our Triad is inextricably linked to the personal involvement of the senior commander, brigade commanders, and medical community," he added. "We have a unified purpose--to ensure the medical needs of the Soldier are met."