JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- Two Madigan Army Medical Center employees received honors recognizing their contributions to Joint Base Lewis-McChord's Warrior Transition Battalion and the Soldiers it serves.
Shawna Klein, formerly a physical therapy assistant at the WTB for more than four years, received the Warrior Care and Transition Cadre Excellence Award in Physical Therapy. Laura Rodeman, an occupational therapist at WTB since 2013, received the WTC Cadre Excellence Award in Occupational Therapy.
For Klein, the distinction is all the more significant in light of the caliber of people from whom she was chosen.
"This was a surprising honor to be awarded the excellence award for the WTC since there are so many people who provide excellent care for the wounded soldiers," said Klein, who now works in Madigan's Physical Therapy Department. "Each person on the Adaptive Sports Physical Therapy team I worked with while at the WTB … could all have easily won this award. They were all dedicated to helping Soldiers and worked hard to find ways to help the Soldiers achieve goals physically, mentally, socially and emotionally. So to be chosen in comparison to such super people is a true honor."
While at the WTB, Klein assisted Soldiers looking to return to active duty or transition out of the military to further develop resiliency and accomplish their goals. She also created positive activity profiles to make individualized sports recommendations, performed fitness testing, led adaptive sports activities and taught fitness classes, which could be adapted for all injuries and abilities.
"I motivated and rehabilitated (more than) 450 wounded Soldiers through adaptive sports, personal training, and fitness activities in my time with the WTB," she said.
The feedback of those Wounded Warriors has been reward enough for Klein.
"I sometimes still get emails from previous Soldiers who express their gratitude for helping them find a new avenue of success and for pushing them to succeed when they were at their lowest points mentally and physically," she said. "Those affirmations remind me how much of a difference a positive motivator can make in a person's recovery and reintegration to the world."
Rodeman, who has served as an occupational therapy supervisor at the WTB for more than two years, said the award came as a shock to her.
"I was quite surprised and felt honored that I would receive this award," she said. "It is really a team effort. All the interdisciplinary team members work so hard here, and we work so well together. I was just the lucky one to get an award -- they all deserve one."
Rodeman's job entails supervising and assessing internship sites, collaborating on focused transition reviews and comprehensive transition plans, and working with occupational therapy assistants and other team members to initiate and improve processes for Soldiers throughout their transition.
"I enjoy getting to know the Soldiers during the different assessments I perform and then helping the Soldiers however I can once I assess their needs," she said.
To that end, Rodeman works hard to meet the individual needs of Soldiers assigned to her care -- ensuring Soldiers have the equipment they need in their barracks rooms and homes to facilitate safety and independence, training spouses to help their Wounded Warriors safely use their equipment, and tracking down special items that can help a Soldier with his or her unique needs.
Sometimes, though, those needs are deeper than physical accommodations.
"There was a Soldier who didn't want to get out of his wheelchair, and there was a chance that if he didn't start walking he would be permanently wheelchair-bound," Rodeman said. "So I would go to his barracks room and encourage him to walk as far as he could to the Tai Chi class, then assist him in his wheelchair the rest of the way to class. In class, I would help him modify the Tai Chi moves and encourage him to do as much as possible standing ... then I would have him walk as far as he could after class.
"We would set goals as to how far he would walk the next day on his own and how long he would stand before sitting for his next Tai Chi class," she said. "The last I saw him, he was walking with a cane."
It is just this level of dedication to wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers that the WTC Cadre Excellence Award is intended to recognize.