By MaryTherese Griffin, Warrior Care and Transition

ARLINGTON, Va. - Lt. Col. Julie Craig, Commander at the Warrior Transition Unit, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, wants Soldiers in her unit to know one thing, "just because your life in the Army is done, things don't stop."

Craig is a huge supporter of the Career Skills Program. "It's hard to translate sometimes what Soldiers do in the military into a civilian equivalent so picking up a new skill is crucial," Craig said. JBLM has tremendous support from Washington employers for their CSP. Craig is excited about the new CSP the U.S. Army Medical Command is rolling out to WTUs across the country.

"The new CSP allows us to expand that aptitude. For example, Camos to Commerce is a state organization here in Washington that can bridge the gap with the civilian sector," Craig explained. "The relationship building with the civilian sector is a key component. To be more specific, where MEDCOM is concerned, the opportunities for a WTU Soldier are now more abundant. Commanders have more ways to help their Soldiers succeed."

WTU commanders also have the support of the Army deputy chief of staff G-1, Lt. Gen Thomas Seamands, who in January of this year delegated authority to MEDCOM to initiate their own CSP program for WTU Soldiers.

MEDCOM's CSP will allow WTU Commanders to support individual Soldier career interests by allowing them to pursue an internship with an employer with whom they want to gain experience. This will be particularly valuable for WTU Soldiers in Community Care Units who live away from the installation and for installations that don't have a large selection of federal worksites to consider.

"I like that MEDCOM is opening doors to other opportunities and allowing us as commanders to individualize things for our Soldiers," said Craig who sees the strong support for the CSP at JBLM continue to grow.

According to Army Regulation 600-81, due to the complexities of their medical needs and abilities, wounded, ill and injured Soldiers assigned to WTUs have not been able to participate in all Soldier for Life-Transition Assistance Program activities.

"This helps the right Soldiers get into the right career paths," said Craig as she reflects on her soldiers who she says deserve every opportunity.

The new opportunity MEDCOM's CSP better prepares wounded, ill and injured Soldiers to take on their new life. "Folks who are part of the WTU have a unique advantage because their sole purpose is to get better and to find ways to transition in a positive manner."

The main objective of the MEDCOM's CSP is to place eligible wounded, ill and injured Soldiers in supportive internships in the private sector or state and local government; in apprenticeships, on-the-job, and job shadowing programs that will positively impact their transition and employability.

Craig hopes all commanders will get on board with the new MEDCOM CSP. "A collaboration with the community, Army Medical and companies? It's a no brainer."