By Jason B. Cutshaw (USASMDC/ARSTRAT)May 24, 2013
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- Redstone Arsenal is host to one of the Army's nine Community Based Warrior Transition Units unit that allows recuperating Soldiers to recover from injuries and receive vital information while remaining close to loved ones.
Approximately 120 National Guard and Reserve Soldiers were at Redstone Arsenal's CBWTU muster May 13-17. While here, they received medical care, attended classes on Army programs and participated in events to help them as they recover from injuries and transition back into civilian life.
"I am visiting Soldiers at the CBWTU because you can't say, 'Thank you,' enough," said Command Sgt. Maj. James N. Ross, command sergeant major, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command. "I want to see what is on their mind, and see if I am able to answer any questions they may have. I also want to let them know the Army is committed to them and we always will be."
The primary mission of the CBWTUs is to provide high-quality health care and administrative processing for Reserve-component Soldiers while allowing them to live and perform duties near their homes and families. The CBWTU program manages more than 900 Soldiers and is manned primarily by more than 250 mobilized Army National Guard and Army Reserve Soldiers who provide command and control for troops undergoing medical treatment in neighborhood health care facilities.
At a CBWTU, nurse case managers manage the Soldiers' care. The case manager coordinates health care appointments, tracks the Soldiers' progress and ensures their care meets Army and TRICARE standards. Medical care is focused on returning Soldiers to their pre-mobilization health status. If after medical treatment, a Soldier does not meet retention standards, they are referred to a series of boards under the Physical Disability Evaluation System. The Physical Evaluation Board has responsibility for determining fitness for duty or any service-connected disability.
"The muster is a chance for us to bring all of our Soldiers into one location and see them face-to-face," said Maj. Greg O'Hara, Redstone Arsenal CBWTU commander. "We get a chance to inform them of what is going on in the Army, to make sure any paperwork is done correctly and ensure any of their needs are met as best we can. It is a big deal to us. This is a tremendous week because we get to take care of our wounded warriors and their families, and let them know we care about them and they are still a part of the Army family.
"It is an amazing feeling to see a Soldier go from getting hurt to being back with their home unit," he added. "We are glad to have had great weather this week and a great facility here on Redstone Arsenal. This is a big deal because we only get to do a muster twice a year so it is important to us as we take care of our Soldiers."
Redstone Arsenal's CBWTU is responsible for Soldiers in the Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.
Prior to the CBWTU program, injured or ill Reserve-component Soldiers who remained on active duty for treatment had to live at an active Army installation. Not only did the surge overwhelm the installation housing and medical capacity, it kept Soldiers away from their families, units and civilian employers.
"This is very important because it is a chance to get wounded warriors from four states together in one location and remind them that they are not forgotten," said 1st Sgt. Jay Stewart, Redstone Arsenal CBWTU first sergeant. "This is a very productive week and we give the Soldiers information on programs, training and medical services they need as they transition to the next stage in their life."
The U.S. Army established Warrior Transition Units at major military treatment facilities located around the world. WTUs provide personal support to wounded Soldiers who require at least six months of rehabilitative care and complex medical management.
A WTU closely resembles a "line" Army unit, with a professional cadre and integrated Army processes that builds on the Army's strength of unit cohesion and teamwork so that wounded Soldiers can focus on healing to transition back to the Army or to civilian status. Each wounded warrior works with a primary care manager (normally a physician), a nurse case manager and squad leader -- who coordinate their care with other clinical and non-clinical professionals.
At the WTU, Soldiers also develop a Comprehensive Transition Plan with personalized goals that allows them and their families to move toward life post-injury.
"This week has provided us with a lot of important information," said Master Sgt. Michael Trost, a member of 489th Civil Affairs Battalion's S-3 office. "There are a lot of job opportunities that are offered and a lot of educational benefits available to us. The benefit is that there are a lot of organizations who come during the muster and let us know what they have to offer.
"Being able to be at home, I believe, has helped me heal faster than if I was at an Army installation and away from her. Being home has made all the difference in the world," he added.
A CBWTU functions as a WTU for Soldiers who receive medical care in their community, either at a Department of Defense installation, with TRICARE, or at a Department of Veterans Affairs health care facility.
The CBWTU primarily provides outpatient care management and transition services for Army Reserve and National Guard Soldiers who do not need the day-to-day medical management provided by WTUs on Army installations. The CBWTU enables the Soldier to recover and transition at the location closest to their personal support network or in their home, if medically supportable.
Ultimately, clinical care requirements determine whether a Soldier is assigned to a WTU or CBWTU.
"This is always very informational," said Sgt. 1st Class Devin Herron, 230th Sustainment Brigade water noncommissioned officer. "Every time I come to the muster here I learn a something new. The military is always changing and we get the latest information. They always provide a lot of resources and if the Soldiers take advantage of this, they should be a lot better off in the future."
One of the Soldiers talked about the care he receives at the CBWTU and how the program is helping by allowing him to be close to family and friends during his recovery.
"This week has been very informative," said Sgt. Travis Mosier, 1st Battalion, 181st Field Artillery Regiment (MLRS) administrative and training NCO. "They have put out a lot of great information that I can use and also take back to my unit to help others in the future. They have treated us great. They are really professional and friendly and that helps when coming back from a deployment.
"There is not a lot of stress here," he added. "You get to go to your classes and medical appointments and get to transition easily back into life, and I can't thank them enough for making this a great experience for us all."
One wounded warrior assigned to SMDC, said the program has been great and allows him to be a part of the Army family while still serving alongside his fellow Soldiers.
"This week has been great," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 James Joyner, an SMDC G-6 team member. "The CBWTU really does a great job taking care of the Soldiers. This really is a process. I have been in the system for more than a year and coming back from Afghanistan and being able to be around my family has been a big part of the healing process.
"My hat is off to the CBWTU," he added. "To be able to go out and actively serve in the role that I performed in the Army is an invaluable experience, and the Redstone Arsenal community is all about taking care of and supporting us. The MWR program here has an incredible staff that does a great job in helping Soldiers and veterans relieve stress.
"The biggest support we receive is from our families though," Joyner concluded. "Without them, we couldn't do what we do. I love being in the Army and doing what I do, but the families are the ones who have really sacrificed for us."