By Don Robbins, Staff Writer U.S. Army Garrison-HawaiiJuly 13, 2009
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - Wounded warriors are benefiting from a joint effort between Tripler Army Medical Center (TAMC) and the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation (FMWR) to help them heal as part of the Warrior Transition Wellness Program.
The collaboration offers wounded Soldiers a combination of adventure trips, music therapy, arts and crafts, yoga, spiritual outings with a chaplain, and a psycho-educational component.
When the Warrior Transition Command (WTC) believed the need to provide a program for Soldiers to make a quicker transition to active duty or civilian life, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Angela Steele, licensed clinical psychologist, was chosen to take the lead.
Her job was to develop the newly introduced Warrior Transition Wellness Program and provide the basic shell and look of the program - a six-week course that introduces Soldiers to a variety of skills, experiences and coping mechanisms.
"We work with the Soldier on multiple levels. We incorporate activities, which look at the whole Soldier. The WTB Wellness Program is the only comprehensive program for Warrior Transition Battalion (WTB) Soldiers at Schofield Barracks," Steele said.
Among the major players working with the WTB is Conor Joyce, a civilian outdoor recreation (ODR) director.
"My goal is to introduce Soldiers to the activities, culture and the experience of Hawaii," Joyce explained.
Working with the WTB as part of their wellness program, ODR takes the Soldiers surfing, paddleboarding, biking, hiking, kayaking and SCUBA diving.
Joyce said the skills Soldiers learn could be used "later in life to minimize stress or find coping mechanisms. It's a peaceful way to wind down."
Joyce recalled that one Soldier never swam in a pool or open water before. However, the Soldier learned to stand-up paddleboard using a personal flotation device. Because that person learned the water isn't such a scary place, the Soldier then decided to take swimming classes.
"They were able to go beyond their personal boundaries," Joyce said.
Besides the work of ODR, another program helping wounded warriors heal consists of music therapy sessions and Arts and Crafts Center activities.
Soldiers can play or listen to music to relax during the music therapy sessions led by a social worker.
"Music therapy is a great way to heal, mentally and physically," said Matt Enoch, FMWR Recreation Center program manager.
Soldiers required to participate in the wellness program are considered "high risk" for destructive behaviors. They are also treated by social workers who are part of the WTB.
Some of the assistance the Soldiers receive include classes on anger management or stress management, she said.
After the six-week wellness program ends, Steele said a two-week break takes place before the program starts up again for a new group of Soldiers. The program will be extended for Soldiers who need further assistance.
Steele said 10 Soldiers are presently involved in the program, but she hopes to expand it to about 20-30 Soldiers. Currently, the Soldiers participate in all activities together, but the goal is to have several rotations of Soldiers working on different activities simultaneously, she added.