By SGT. Karl Williams, 3BCT, 1st Cav. Public AffairsMarch 10, 2009
FORT HOOD, Texas - "Once Cav., Always Cav. ... Once Greywolf, Always Greywolf."
For a group from 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division's command group and Family Readiness Support assistants, it's more than just a catchphrase; it's a pledge of support they make to all former Cav. Soldiers.
With their regular trips to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio to visit their wounded Soldiers, the "Greywolf" command team lets their former Soldiers know that pledge will continue even when as they have been reassigned to BAMC.
During their last scheduled trip to BAMC, March 5, the group made the journey to offer encouragement and support to wounded Soldiers there who were once assigned to 3rd HBCT.
"Today's visit was phenomenal," said LeAnn Volesky, who is married to Col. Gary Volesky, 3rd HBCT's commander. "It's unbelievable how well our guys are being cared for here. With improvement to facilities and the level of care, we know our guys are receiving the best possible care.'
'It's also important for us to make sure that our guys know that they have not been forgotten even though they're here. We want them to know they're still us; they're 'Greywolf,' Volesky said. "We want to leave them with the message that the Cav. family still cares about them.'"
Volesky added the regular visits to BAMC will continue as long as there are Cav. Soldiers in these medical facilities.
For Capt. Russell Toll, the Rear Detachment commander of 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 3nd HBCT, 1st Cav. Div., it was his first visit former Greywolf Soldiers.
"As a Rear Detachment commander, my responsibilities are two parts: first, to ensure that our Soldiers are receiving the proper level of care. Second, I have a person responsibility to [Spc. Victor] Rivera. We were deployed together; we fought together. So personally I want to ensure that he's being well cared for," said Toll, of Austin, Texas. "It doesn't seem like much on a superficial level, but to establish and keep that bond, keeps this fraternity together. We are not just Soldiers; we are brothers."
When Rivera, of Chicago, who was injured in 2007 in Iraq, found out that members of his former unit came to visit, he donned his Stetson when he met up with the group.
Rivera recalled being confined to a wheelchair; however, he said phone calls from Lori Carpenter, 3rd HBCT's FRSA, and visits from Greywolf members gave him strength and encouragement while rehabilitating.
"It's great to have to someone come down from the brigade to visit us. It's a reminder that we are not alone here. We're still part of the Cav. family, and that boost your morale," said Rivera, who is currently assigned to the BAMC's Warrior Transition Unit, but still wears his 1st Cav. patch.
Rivera explained that, although he is assigned to BAMC's WTU, Soldiers like him are given the option to wear their former unit's patch and other organizational-specific decorations such as the cavalry Stetson.
For 3rd HBCT members, it's important to keep in contact with Cav. Soldiers for another reason, said Carpenter, of Bennington, Vt. She added that it also allows them to give feedback to their commanders.
"We inform them that we have seen their Soldiers, and they're doing great," Carpenter said. "It also helps the Soldiers downrange to know that their injured buddies and families here are being well cared for."
Cpl. John Hiland, of Charlotte, N.C., who has been at BAMC since 2007, said the visits is a "godsend" for him because he said he considers 3rd HBCT as his "family."
"For the brigade to have your back ... that's what it all about ... that's what the Army is about," Hiland said.
Carpenter said personal interaction with their wounded Soldiers is a big piece of their rehabilitation.
"We take coming down here to heart," she said. "To support their healing process -- to watch a Soldier go from being immobile in bed -- to having them run up to meet you -- makes your hearts feel good. You go arrive there feeling like you're going to give them something, and you leave with something from them instead."