By by Eve Meinhardt/ParaglideJanuary 15, 2010
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - The Warrior Transition Battalion is doing some transitioning of its own. In the past few months, the unit has firmly established a Family readiness group; implemented the development of a comprehensive transition plan for every Soldier; began preparations for standing up an additional company, as well as a headquarters and headquarters company; began preparations for moving their companies into new office space; and started focusing even more on getting Soldiers preparing to transition out of the Army into college classes and internships.
"We are finally getting the FRG up and running the way it should be and everything is moving in the right direction," said Lt. Col. Terence S. McDowell, commander, Warrior Transition Battalion. "Our FRG is very different from other units. The spouses are more engaged in what we do each day because all of us are focused on their Soldier's recovery."
To prepare for their recovery, each WTB Soldier must develop a comprehensive transition plan when assigned to the WTB. This plan helps Soldiers take an active role in preparing for the future, whether they will transition out of the Army into civilian careers or remain on active duty. It also helps the warriors set achievable short and long-term goals.
To better assist incoming Soldiers, the WTB will soon be standing a fully operational headquarters and headquarters company. All new Soldiers will be assigned to the HHC for their first 30 days in the unit. During that time, a staff of experienced WTB squad leaders and platoon sergeants will help newcomers develop their transition plans, ensure they attend all the required briefings and help find the answers to any questions they might have.
The HHC won't be the only new addition to the unit. The WTB is also standing up a fifth line company to prepare for an additional 275 warriors in transition from a five state area, which includes Virginia and Ohio. The unit currently has about 465 warriors in transition and after the formation of Company E, there will be about 1,100 cadre and Soldiers assigned there.
Fortunately, the new companies are coming as the $4.5 million project to provide the WTB more office space on the first floor of the Soldier Support Center is nearing completion.
McDowell, who took command of the unit in July 2009, said one of the changes he is most proud of is the push to get Soldiers involved in college classes or internships.
"The command and the primary care providers work with the Soldiers to book their appointments around their college classes or internship," said McDowell.
"Allowing them to prepare for their future helps reduce the anxiety that comes with thinking about a future involving not being in uniform."
For Soldiers who will be staying in the Army after their time at the WTB, McDowell said it is a priority to get them linked up with a unit where they can work with Soldiers in their military occupational specialty.
"We make sure they're lined up and getting a chance to continue doing their MOS and having the opportunity to maintain their proficiency," he said.
Command Sgt. Maj. Alvin V. Brown, the WTB command sergeant major, has been with the unit since March 2008. He said he has seen many changes during his time with the WTB, but the one he is most proud of is the experience and devotion of the squad leaders and platoon sergeants.
"We have a more experienced cadre than we did a few years ago," said Brown.
"In order to work here, they have to have previous experience in the position they will be filling and leading Soldiers. The two-week training course in San Antonio, Texas has also made an impact. They get to meet with their peers and learn about the importance of what they do."
Brown added that the leadership provides daily mentorship and training to the newer cadre, keeping their focus on the health and recovery of each of the warriors in transition.
"Only high caliber individuals can fill leadership positions within this organization," said McDowell. "We continue to get more effective and efficient."