By John M. Rosenberg, Warrior Transition CommandJune 28, 2016
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (June 27, 2016) -- Carrying out a time-honored military tradition, Col. Chris Toner, commander of the Warrior Transition Command, and Sgt. Maj. Eric Andreis formally cased the colors of the WTC during a June 24 ceremony. Held within the Flag Room at the WTC headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia, the morning ceremony marked the end of the organization as a structural command under the U.S. Army Medical Command, or MEDCOM.
The mission of WTC, which stood up in 2009, was to coordinate and integrate as an enduring program the Army's Warrior Care and Transition Program for wounded, ill and injured Soldiers, Veterans and their Families or caregivers to promote success in the force or civilian life.
After the formal casing of the colors, Maj. Gen. Barbara Holcomb, MEDCOM deputy commanding general for operations and chief, Army Nurse Corps, was introduced. Holcomb said the consolidation of WTUs is, in some ways, a good thing as it is indicative of the decrease in number of wounded, ill and injured Soldiers.
However, Holcomb noted that Soldiers remain in harm's way. "We retire these colors, but have a template if we ever need it again," said Holcomb. "We will continue to take care of our wounded warriors and we will never again have those gaps that we had in the past."
Holcomb said, "Over 70,000 Soldiers have been cared for by the Warrior Transition Command. That's pretty impressive. Thank you for your efforts."
Toner then took to the podium underscoring that, even though the WTC has gone from a command to a directorate, the mission itself has not changed. He also stressed the importance of remembering that those who have chosen to wear the uniform did so by raising a hand in oath to the Constitution of the United States of America.
Toner cited the example of Sgt. Stefan LeRoy of Santa Rosa, California, a double amputee as the result of stepping on a landmine while carrying a wounded Soldier to a medical evacuation helicopter in Afghanistan. A mere two months after sustaining his injuries, LeRoy took up hand cycling and soon thereafter competed in the 2013 Boston Marathon, rushing out of his hotel room after having finished the race in order to aid those injured in the terrorist bomb blasts.
"In this year's Boston Marathon, LeRoy ran on two prosthetic legs," said Toner. "He's won medals at Invictus and the Warrior Games and has an enthusiastic love of life."
"LeRoy is also one of many who raised his right hand in service to our nation," said Toner. "It is on behalf of Stefan LeRoy, and those like him, that warrior care remains an Army priority as well as a sacred obligation."
Upon completion of the casing ceremony, the colors of the command were retired to the U.S. Army Center of Military History across the Potomac River at Fort McNair, Washington, D.C.