By Ms. Maria Yager (Army Medicine)November 7, 2017
One Fort Campbell Warrior Transition Battalion Soldier who was diagnosed with cancer recently completed chemotherapy treatment and is working hard to return to duty.
Spc. Courtney Jones was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma while completing her initial Army training. After successfully completing AIT and getting certified in her military occupational specialty, cannon crew member, Jones underwent chemotherapy treatment and was assigned to Fort Campbell's WTB.
Warrior Transition Battalions or units are located at major military treatment facilities, providing personalized support to wounded, ill and injured Soldiers who require at least six months of rehabilitation and complex medical management.
At Fort Campbell, Jones' health after cancer treatment was evaluated by a medical evaluation board. An MEB is an informal board of two or more physicians who evaluate a Soldiers medical history, condition, and extent of injuries or illness and recommend whether or not the Soldier's medical condition will prevent the Soldier's ability to continue serving in full capacity at their grade or rank. Jones' MEB had to determine if her health would allow her to return to duty or if she would be recommended for a more formal Physical Evaluation Board. A PEB makes the formal determination if a Soldier is fit for continued military service and subsequent eligibility for disability compensation.
Jones said she felt good and remained positive and worked to regain her physical strength on her own and through the WTB's adaptive reconditioning program. Adaptive reconditioning is any physical activity wounded, ill and injured Soldiers participate in regularly to support their physical and emotional well-being. The battalion's physical therapist evaluates each Soldier and provides them a number of activities they may participate in to help in their recovery and monitors their progress.
"During treatment I tried to stay physically active. I'd run and do everything I could," said Jones, who worried the Army would kick her out. Despite her fears of being separated from the Army, Jones said she kept her focus on her goal of returning to duty. "You have to stay positive and work towards your goals, whether it's transitioning out or transitioning back in."
While the MEB evaluated Jones' heath, her care team at the WTB determined Jones was a good candidate for integration to a unit on post where she would receive refresher training for her MOS while continuing to regain her physical strength which was temporarily weakened as a result of chemotherapy. Jones' efforts during treatment to keep up her physical strength had paid off and she was healthy enough for unit integration. A platoon sergeant at the WTB arranged a work site for Jones with 3rd Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 101st Airborne Division Artillery Brigade -- "Red Knights" to help her refresh her skills.
"I'm really excited to be here. I've wanted to get back for a while and I'm just glad the Army actually gave me a chance to come back," said Jones, who participated in Artillery Skills Proficiency Testing with the unit.
"We wanted to get Spc. Jones out here to go through all the ten-level training because there was a chance that she was going to return to duty. She wanted to prove to the Army that she could still do her job despite what she was going through," said Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Phillipson, a WTB platoon leader. Her integration with The Red Knights is just one example of how the WTB prepares Soldiers for their return to duty after undergoing long-term medical treatment at the battalion. The WTB staff can help a Soldier return to duty in their original MOS or in cases where illness or injury may affect their ability to continue in their current MOS, help with reassignment to a new career field.
Jones integrated with The Red Knights for training, including unit physical training. Her care team at the WTB regularly monitors her activity as she recovers from treatment. They visit her at her work site and keep in close contact with her supervisors at the 3-320th.
"I like it a lot better. I'm get to do what I'm supposed to do and trained to do. I'm relearning some things so I can be ready when I do go back to my actual unit," said Jones.
Soon after integrating with the unit, Jones received word that her cancer scans came back clear and the MEB determined she could return to duty in her MOS. This was great news for Jones and her care team at the WTB.
"There's definitely been a lot of support and a lot of people helping me reach my goal. I'm very thankful for the help from the WTB," said Jones.
To learn more about warrior care visit www.wct.army.mil