By Ms. Gloria Montgomery (Army Medicine)June 19, 2018
Taking care of the Army's wounded, ill and injured Soldiers continues to be one of the Army's toughest jobs, said outgoing Warrior Transition Unit commander, Lt. Col. Bruce Gannaway, as he bid farewell to the unit he had commanded since March 2016.
"This command holds a unique position on post," said the Georgia native, addressing the small crowd braving the morning heat and humidity after the combat-wounded Soldier handed the guidon to the unit's first female commander, Lt. Col. Elizabeth Cain, during a June 8 change of command. "No one else does what we do."
That mission, according to Army Medicine, is ensuring Fort Hood's wounded, ill or injured Soldiers and their Families heal from their injuries and complex medical issues so they can either successfully transition back into the force or into the community.
Acknowledging that many Soldiers, whose only mission is to heal while assigned to the WTU, arrive at the unit with expectations, Gannaway encouraged the Soldiers in Transition to become positive, productive citizens who give back.
"For those who have sustained serious, life altering, illness or injuries, don't focus on your disability, focus on your ability," said the Purple Heart recipient, whose left leg was amputated below the knee after stepping on an improvised explosive device in 2007 during Operation Iraqi Freedom. "In short, Soldier, find something that you can be great at and aspire to represent the Army."
Gannaway emphasized every WTU Soldier is given the tools to succeed through the Comprehensive Transition Plan.
"As the owner of that plan, each Soldier is empowered to take charge of their own transition and is accountable for developing and achieving their goals while complying with all their medical and military responsibilities," he said.
Gannaway, who is retiring, also paid tribute to the Families and caregivers behind every Soldier in Transition.
"We cannot replace the love and support that you provide to your Soldier and the support you give to all of us," he said, acknowledging their critical role in a Soldier's healing process. "It's incredible what you do."
He ended his remarks thanking his staff for their support and contributions in beating out 13 other Army WTUs to earn top honors in providing care and transitioning services to the Army's wounded, ill and injured Soldiers in Army Medicine's Warrior Care and Transition Program for Fiscal Year 2017. During the nominating year, the Fort Hood WTU outscored the other WTUs during the annual command inspection program that included an array of items related to career transitioning, adaptive reconditioning, Family programs and partnerships with local and state-wide community and educational organizations.
"Your leadership has been impeccable," Col. David R. Gibson, commander, Carl R. Darnall. Army Medical Center, told Gannaway during the ceremony. "You are a Soldier's Soldier, who leads from the front, inspiring Soldiers and, frankly, inspiring me."
Acknowledging the difficult mission Gannaway and his staff had, Colonel Gibson praised the staff for their "uncommon compassion and character."
"These Soldiers are your Soldiers, and we are here to take care of them," Gibson said, adding that leadership is expected to provide the Soldiers with a compassionate healing environment. "Getting this right is not easy, but we have been blessed with a line of strong leadership."
In her welcoming remarks after assuming command, Cain pledged to continue to build on the WTU's legacy of providing compassionate care to the nation's wounded, ill and injured Soldiers.
"We understand what a privilege and sacred trust is now bestowed on us," said the new commander, who comes to Fort Hood from the 16th Military Police Brigade, Fort Bragg, N.C., where she served as the brigade's deputy commander.
About the WTU:
Fort Hood's WTU was activated in 2007 and stood up as a brigade August 2008. By the time it was downsized to battalion level December 2015, it had served more than 4,000 Soldiers in Transition.
The WTU mission is to provide command and control for wounded, injured or ill Soldiers to ensure he or she receives the appropriate medical care and administrative support so they can fully return to duty at their unit, re-class into another military occupation, or return to the community as an honored veteran. A WTU closely resembles an Army "line" unit and builds on the Army's strength of unit cohesion and teamwork. Within a WTU, wounded, ill and injured Soldiers work with their Triad of Care -- primary care manager (normally a physician), nurse case manager, and squad leader -- who coordinate their care with other clinical and non-clinical professionals.
While assigned to the WTU, the Soldier's mission is to heal. A typical day in the life of a Soldier in Transition would be: attending his or her medical appointments; attending school or working in an unpaid federal internship such as the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Veterans Affairs or Homeland Security; preparing for transitioning to the civilian world by going to job fairs and career workshops; and maintaining physical and mental conditioning by participating in activities unique to the WTU to include, cycling, wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball, archery and air rifle.