Restructure of warrior transition units ensures continuity of care and readiness

By Paul Cook and Terry J,. Goodman, Regional Health Command-AtlanticNovember 30, 2020

In August, the Warrior Transition Brigade-National Capital Region officially became the Soldier Recovery Brigade-National Capital Region (SRB-NCR) during a reflagging ceremony held at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center located on Naval Support Activity-Bethesda in Bethesda, Maryland.

This reflagging ceremony marked the final phase of an Army-wide restructure that resulted in the transformation of the Warrior Care and Transition Program (WCTP) to the Army Recovery Care Program (ARCP) and the Warrior Transition Units to Soldier Recovery Units. A critical aspect of this transformation was the transition to a single eligibility criteria for all Soldiers to be assigned to an SRU.  These necessary changes in the former WCTP, were the result of the Army’s comprehensive review to recognize ways to improve the care for the wounded, ill and injured through updated policies, procedures, and resources.

(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

Headquarters Platoon's Sgt. First Class Robert Pierce, platoon sergeant, in processes a new Soldier to the Soldier Recovery Brigade. During the in processing Soldiers are briefed on policies as well as programs available to them. (Photo by Paul Cook)

As part of the preparation for the restructure at the SRB-NCR, Maj. Brian Kinkade, the Brigade’s former executive officer, organized Rehearsal of Concept (ROC) Drills for staff to understand the new processes and procedures;, enhancing the understanding of the new structure and changes in management and healthcare of those Soldiers assigned to the Brigade.

Additionally, the ROC drills enhanced Cadre understanding of the various tracts of recovery available to the Soldiers based on their condition and leadership decisions required during the process.  Each step of the way was explained in detail, which allowed the Cadre to see the actual process in action and to answer any questions they may have.

Brigade Surgeon, Lt. Col. Ryan Larson, expressed that he was impressed with how the staff and Cadre have adjusted to the changes that came with the Brigade’s new name.

“The Cadre have adjusted well to the new parameters,” he stated and “the team has maintained an open mind and kept mission focus throughout the change.”

Before the reorganization, there were two Warrior Transition Units in the national capital region –Fort Belvoir, Virginia and Bethesda. With the restructure, these units consolidated to form the SRB-NCR, commanded by an Active Duty, Central Selection List Colonel who has operational and administrative control of the new unit ensuring that all Soldiers within the NCR have a single, dedicated commander leading the mission.

The SRU-Fort Belvoir is similarly commanded by an Active Duty, Central Selection List lieutenant colonel. Both of these elements retain a subordinate Soldier Recovery Unit-Detachment (SRD) commanded by a captain.

With the new structure, the SRDs are now organized into four platoon tracks; Headquarters (HQ), Complex Care (CC), Veteran Track (VT) and Return to Duty Track (RTD). Company Command teams assign recovering Soldiers to a specific track based on their medical needs.

The establishment of these tracks have had a positive effect not only on the cadre, who are responsible for the management of the Soldiers in recovery, but those also on the Soldiers themselves.

Prior to the restructure, there was no distinction or separation between recovering Soldiers based on their medical outlook. Now however, they are assigned to either the RTD Platoon or the VT Platoon based on their medical disposition.

Staff Sgt. Rolando Buenofeliz, a Veteran Track squad leader, said being in charge of Soldiers who have the same status, or goals, gives him the expertise to provide his Soldiers with the guidance and support they need. “It allows me to focus more on their needs,” he added.

Dr. Shannon Webb, SRB-NCR Rehabilitation director at SRB-NCR is impressed with the Brigade’s restructure and thinks it will continue to have a positive impact.

“I feel the CC, VT and RTD tracts have helped specialize programming and attention to detail in the corresponding areas, affording a better rehab outcome at each stage.” Webb said.

Shortly following the ROC Drills and still getting comfortable with the new structure, the staff had to face another significant challenge – COVID-19, which forced them to develop new measures in performing their duties while keeping all safe in the process.

The men and women of the SRB-NCR stepped up to the challenge and quickly adapted. In fact, despite the restructure and the pandemic, four of its members from Fort Belvoir received Cadre of Excellence Awards from Regional Health Command Atlantic and were also named the best in the U.S. Army Medical Command Nov. 19

Colonel Jason Hallock, SRB-NCR commander said the Army, MEDCOM and his staff retains the same focus following the restructure: returning Soldiers back to their units ready to continue the fight, or transitioning the Soldier to their next chapter of life as a Soldier for Life.

“Throughout the transformation and change, there has remained one constant and that constant is commitment,” Hallock said. “Our Cadre’s unwavering commitment to the recovery of our wounded, ill and injured Soldiers and their Families.”