By MaryTherese Griffin, Warrior Care and TransitionJanuary 4, 2018
ARLINGTON, Va.- 'Readiness', noun - "The state of being fully prepared."
Readiness is not something the U.S. Army takes lightly. In fact, it's the number one priority for Army leadership. From the Chief of Staff of the Army, General Mark A. Milley on down to the battalion level, readiness is at the top of the list. So how do you reconcile "readiness" where our wounded, injured and ill are concerned?
Simple, by putting the right Soldier for the right reason into a Warrior Transition Unit for them to heal and recover.
The entry criteria in Army Regulation 40-58 provides leaders the opportunity to make deliberate and necessary decisions in the medical management of their Soldiers. Col. Matthew G. St Laurent, Deputy Chief of Staff, Warrior Care and Transition explains how the Army's Warrior Care and Transition Program directly effects readiness essentially in three ways.
"By assigning a medically non-deployable Soldier into a WTU, it allows that unit to replace that Soldier with one who is deployable," St Laurent explained. "When a medically non-deployable Soldier is assigned to a WTU, it allows a unit to focus on readiness/mission training while affording the medical healthcare system the opportunity to rehab a Soldier back to a deployable status and returning them to the force. The WCTP also has a Career and Education Readiness program that offers internships, education resources and training," he continued. "The CER program provides a Soldier with an education and/or new skills for MOS reassignment to return to duty or transition out into Veteran status into a job and remain a productive and purposeful citizen within their civilian community."
St. Laurent acknowledges that it is not a one size fits all deal, but believes leaders should be proactive in identifying those Soldiers who need to place their medical needs first. "The Army has the finest medical health care system in the world that is ready and capable of improving the health and wellness of our Soldiers to return them to fight another day," Col. St Laurent said. "The Warrior Transition Unit team stands ready to lead and medically case manage our Soldiers and their families throughout their care."
Someone who knows first hand about that care is Staff Sgt. Ross Alewine who is assigned to the Warrior Transition Battalion at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. After multiple injuries from multiple deployments, he is learning to fight another day.
"With the help of my WTB team and my adaptive reconditioning site coordinator Steve Smutak, I was able to get through my very long and painful rehabilitation therapy without the help of any narcotics," Alewine said. "At this point, a few days into the New Year, I am excited and a little nervous but feel very prepared."
That preparedness and confidence shows the importance of assigning the right Soldier for the right reason to a WTU. It is a deliberate means in getting our Soldiers the care they need.
"The WTB at Fort Belvoir has helped me tremendously. Other than my mother Kelly Ford, who is my rock, the WTB has changed my life. They have somehow been able to prepare me physically for the chance to compete at Warrior Games and at the same time prepare me to be a contributing member of the civilian society that I will join in 2018. The programs, mentorship and the occasional pat on the back or a good pep talk has tremendously contributed to my success. I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for the WTB."
The New Year means more to Col. St Laurent then resolutions at midnight. There's work to be done and Warrior Care and Transition stands "ready" to deliver.
"We must make the necessary adjustments to ensure we are providing the best medical case management and transitional support possible for all our Soldiers in Transition and their families on behalf of our Army Leaders and the American People," St Laurent said. "We are the guardians of this exceptional program and must remain committed to never leaving a fallen warrior affected by wounds, injuries, or illness."