FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- With fellow commanders, command sergeants major, Family and friends looking on, Lt. Col. Todd E. Bajakian assumed command of 3rd Battalion, 85th Mountain Infantry Regiment, Warrior Transition Battalion, from Lt. Col. Celia FlorCruz during a ceremony Friday at Sexton Field.

Bajakian, a cancer survivor whose most recent assignment was as a joint / interagency instructor at the Command and General Staff College, Fort Belvoir, Va., remarked during the change of command that transition should not be seen as ominous, because life is full of transitions.

"The Army is in the midst of transition," he said. "This battalion today is in the midst of transition, and for the Soldiers and Families of 3rd Battalion, 85th Mountain Infantry, transition must be a way of life -- but you will not transition alone.

"Your journey will be aided by all the cadre, doctors, nurses and civilians in this battalion who have you and your loved ones' transition concerns first and foremost," Bajakian added.

A native of Massachusetts, Bajakian was commissioned a field artillery officer upon graduation in 1994 from Norwich University - The Military College of Vermont, where he earned a bachelor's degree in political science. He also holds a master's degree in business from Webster University, St. Louis, Mo.

He previously served assignments at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.; Vilseck, Germany; Wiesbaden, Germany; Iraq, Fort Hood, Texas; and Bosnia.

Bajakian thanked Col. Mark W. Thompson, U.S. Army Medical Department Activity - Fort Drum commander, and the 10th Mountain Division (LI) for the opportunity to command the Warrior Transition Battalion.

He said this is one of the most challenging and demanding commands in the Army today.
Bajakian said he looks forward to ensuring the health, welfare, recovery and transition of many wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers and their Families.

FlorCruz told attendees that she is inspired by the question, "What gives you hope?" She informed attendees that this is a question she has all of the Soldiers answer when they enter the battalion. She also said that it is important that you have realistic expectations and that you are honest with yourself.

"Stuff happens in our lives, and life is hard and life is unfair," FlorCruz said. "Everybody here needs a plan B, not just those of you standing in formation, but everyone out here."

FlorCruz said that her faith, Family and fellow service members give her hope and that finding hope can get you through some very difficult times.

"What matters is how we handle the unexpected," she said.

FlorCruz will head to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., to serve in 7th Infantry Division.