By Kari Hawkins, USAG RedstoneSeptember 12, 2014
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- Team Redstone has officially lost a tenant due to the Army's transformation.
Redstone Arsenal's Community Based Warrior Transition Unit-Alabama, which served wounded, ill or injured Soldiers convalescing with family in Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi or Louisiana, closed its doors of service during an inactivation ceremony Friday.
The Soldiers the unit served will now get the same level of remote care from the Warrior Transition Unit at Fort Benning, Georgia, while they continue their medical treatments in their home community, said Lt. Col. R. Elaine Freeman, commander of the Fort Benning WTU.
The ceremony, she said, "demonstrates another moment of an Army in transition."
The Community Based Warrior Transition Unit-Alabama opened at Redstone Arsenal in March 2005 so that Reserve and National Guard Soldiers wounded, ill or injured could receive medical care in their home community, and then either transition back into their Army unit or the civilian environment.
CBWTU-Alabama was part of a network of nine CBWTUs across the nation to improve Soldier care and to bring to fruition new processes to enhance Soldier transitions. Besides providing support for the Soldier while undergoing medical care, they also provided social workers to address the needs of Soldiers dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Mild Traumatic Brain Injury.
In August 2013, the transition of the CBWTU-Alabama to the Community Care Unit at Fort Benning was approved. In June, CBWTU-Alabama began transitioning all Soldier care to Fort Benning, with a 100 percent Soldier transfer completed by Aug. 30. Also in August, the Community Care Unit was renamed the Warrior Transition Unit.
"The mission (of the CBWTU-Alabama) was to allow Army reservists and National Guardsmen to recover from wounds stateside by providing remote care back home in their community and near their family support system," Freeman said.
CBWTU-Alabama served more than 600 service members during its eight years of operations. In the past nine months, the CBWTU has worked to transition more than 200 wounded warriors to the WTU at Fort Benning, back to their unit or to their civilian life.
Freeman thanked the staff of the CBWTU-Alabama, which consisted primarily of Reserve or National Guard Soldiers along with a few civilians, for their "leadership, dedication and compassion to all our Soldiers, and for the smooth transition that realigns management of Soldiers healing at home to Fort Benning."
The wounded warriors transferred to the WTU at Fort Benning will receive the "benefits of a dedicated community of cadre, Martin Army Community Hospital at Fort Benning and all of the installation's resources," Freeman said, so that healing Soldiers can "transition back to the Army or to civilian careers as productive veterans."
Capt. Nathaniel Hilliard, commander of the CBWTU-Alabama, thanked the unit's staff for the experience of leading as its commander. He thanked Freeman for challenging him with the leadership position, and for mentoring him and giving him the freedom to lead the unit.
"It's been the opportunity of a lifetime to be able to leave a fingerprint on the most priced resources of the Army," he said.
"I've experienced days of watching Soldiers heal to transition back to the Army or to the civilian workforce. I've worked with the hardest working NCOs in the Army. I've been able to set standards for the company based on the concern for the welfare of Soldiers, and to ensure the highest level of independence and quality of life for our Soldiers."
Hilliard's career will next take him to Fort Benning, where he will work in Operations. CBWTU-Alabama acting 1st Sgt. Eric Loving will go on to be a platoon sergeant at the WTU at Fort Benning.
"As the journey for this CBWTU comes to a close, I want to share with you a quote from a plaque in my office," Hilliard said. "It says, 'Everyone brings joy to this office, some when they enter and some when they leave.' Keep the promise."