Warrior Care and Transition works to finalize updates to the goal setting process for Soldiers in transition
By Whitney Delbridge Nichels, Warrior Care and Transition

ARLINGTON, Va. - When Army Capt. Steve Bortle was assigned to the Warrior Transition Battalion at Tripler Army Medical Center, he made a plan and stuck to it.

As he worked towards recovery from shoulder injuries and ulcerative colitis in 2015, the decorated combat veteran says he kept his goals - which included excelling in adaptive sports - in the forefront of his mind at all times.

"For Soldiers in the WTB, goal setting is very important," said Bortle, who recently won several medals at the 2018 Warrior Games in Colorado Springs, Colorado and will represent Team U.S. at the 2018 Invictus Games in Sydney, Australia. "[Goal setting] helps you focus on what you hope to achieve in your next chapter, and it helped me get to where I wanted to be."

Thanks to Warrior Care and Transition leaders, wounded warrior advocates, WTB cadre and staff, that goal setting process will soon become even more streamlined and user friendly.

In August of 2017, a working group was established to determine ways to improve this process for Soldiers in transition and their families.

"One of the things that can be overwhelming about going into a WTB is feeling like you've been put into a situation that you weren't expecting and now you're feeling like your life plan has been potentially put in jeopardy," said WCT Occupational Therapy Consultant Elena Plionis. "So, it's all about breaking things down into more manageable pieces."

Goal setting is one of the six processes that make up the Comprehensive Transition Plan that each Soldier must complete during his or her time in a WTB.

In addition to those processes, the CTP includes the following six domains within which a Soldiers' goals must fit: Career, Physical, Emotional, Social, Family, and Spiritual.

"An issue [the working group] identified was that the goals almost seemed subservient to the domains," said Plionis. "There was an expectation for Soldiers to maintain a goal within each domain. That implies that no issue or goal is more important than the other, but that's not true."

To address this issue, the group came to the table with ideas to help Soldiers prioritize.

"We're now saying, 'What are your top two to three issues?' It could be pain, family stress, or it could be financial. From there, we would assign a domain to those issues. So now the Soldier's main priorities and concerns come first," said Plionis.

The group has met by phone and in-person multiple times over the last several months. This included a face-to-face meeting in December, which brought together experts from across the country all with the same goal of helping Soldiers make the most of their time and resources in the WTB.

Focus groups have also been conducted with more than 100 Soldiers to get their feedback on the process.

"We want to provide Soldiers with a road map and benchmarks to help them work towards a successful transition," said WCT Program Analyst Lonnie Moore. "And we also hope this will better equip cadre and staff to more effectively apply resources to help that Soldier and their family achieve those goals."

As it stands, the working group has put together an updated policy and is seeking input from stakeholders before presenting a final version to the Deputy Chief of Staff for Warrior Care and Transition, Col. Matthew St Laurent. Once they receive his approval, Moore says the group will begin implementing the policy by updating the Army Warrior Care and Transition System database known as AWCTS.

To learn more about the current goal setting process and the CTP, visit http://wct.army.mil/modules/soldier/s1-ctp.html.