MADIGAN ARMY MEDICAL CENTER, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. – The Soldier Recovery Unit, formerly known as the Warrior Transition Battalion, on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., notched another hail and farewell under its belt with gratitude for the short ride of outgoing Commander Lt. Col. Stephen J. Buchanan and anticipation of more transformation of the unit under incoming Commander Lt. Col. Woodrow D. Pengelly at a change of command ceremony at Madigan Army Medical Center on Feb. 3.
As understood as the concept that change is inevitable may be, it is still hard for most people. It is likely a rare few people who can truly ride a wave of uncertainty and come out of it with personal improvement and the admiration of cohorts.
“I want you to know that Steve took this mission on voluntarily,” said Madigan Acting Commander Col. Scott Roofe. “When we needed someone to fill in as the interim commander, because there was delay in the previous assignment, Steve said pick me.”
Having taken the colors from Roofe on October 8, 2020, Buchanan stepped in just months after the unit made the most significant transformation in its decade-plus history, re-designating from the WTB to the SRU in late June of 2020.
One of the key parts of the restructuring of the units was to implement a single entry criterion to streamline use of the units. Previously, there were two criteria of complex care required and a six-month treatment timeline for active duty Soldiers while the reserve component’s criteria were based on a definitive care requirement and a 30-day treatment timeline.
Additionally, the long-term intent is to move the units under the command of the resident FORSCOM unit instead of under the medical unit on the installation. JBLM’s SRU will remain a unit of Madigan for the foreseeable future.
Both of these changes require substantial planning, coordination and effort by the entire unit.
Buchanan and the SRU team, “Worked tirelessly to enhance the resources in the SRU, including increased access to vital behavioral health support,” noted Roofe. “Buchanan also engaged community partners to support both the Soldiers in transition and the cadre to the betterment of the entire organization.”
Roofe noted the SRU mission is to provide care to Soldiers in transition, dealing with injury, illness or disease. These Soldiers are transferred to the unit for close oversight of their medical care and transition either back to active duty or out of service, based on the needs of their individual situation.
After observing a moment of silence for the Soldier who died during his tenure with the unit, Buchanan spoke of his personal efforts of self-improvement.
Relaying his story involving behavioral health counseling, he encouraged all to take a different view to reduce the stigma that lingers.
“We view addiction and mental health as problems rather than as opportunities for performance improvement,” he stated. “It's a mentality change that every one of us should embrace.”
Pengelly grasped the unit’s colors from Roofe knowing his charge is to continue the unit’s transformation.
Pengelly is a native of Portland, Ore., who has been activated from the Reserves for this assignment.
Formerly an active duty Soldier who was stationed here with the 555th Engineer Brigade. Since moving to the Reserves nearly a decade ago, Pengelly has deployed six times with the Army Corps of Engineers and has substantial experience working with veterans and veterans’ issues.
In his introductory words, he thanked those who preceded him and turned his focus to the unit.
To Buchanan, he said, “Steven, you leave some very big shoes to fill, but your footprints made a trail that's going in the right direction. To the providers and cadre of the SRU, I am honored to join this team and serve alongside of you, as we in turn, serve our recovering Soldiers who have already given so much to our country.”
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