By Deikeya GreerJune 8, 2010
FORT RILEY, Kan. -"This is truly a historic day, a mark of tangible commitment providing the absolute best care for our wounded warriors," said Brig. Gen. David Petersen, 1st Infantry Division and deputy commanding general - rear, May 27 during a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Fort Riley's Warrior Transition Battalion Complex.
Fort Riley, home to the first WTB in the Army, is now home to the first completed WTB complex - a $54 million dollar facility. "This is a start of what will continue to be an evolving way of taking care of those who have sacrificed so much," Petersen said.
According to Petersen, the complex will be a place where wounded servicemembers and their Families will be able to take part in physical and behavioral health activities, receive quality outcome-focused care and service, and access conscious care.
The three-building facility will provide a battalion headquarters, company operating facilities and a Soldier and Family Assistance Center. A WTB barracks already was completed. Work on the project began in September 2008. It took 18 months to finish the project. The new barracks, battalion headquarters, COFs and SFAC total about 131,000 square feet.
Along with the ribbon cutting, leaders signed the Army Medicine Healthcare Covenant. The signing of the covenant marked the commitment to providing quality health care to wounded, ill and injured Soldiers as well as their Families.
The WTB complex project was a joint effort among the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Fort Riley garrison, the Army Medical Department and the Warrior Transition Command. Prior to the building of the WTB complex, Soldiers assigned to this battalion lived in temporary mobile housing units.
The construction of the new facility aimed to meet the needs of and better the lives of the servicemembers.
"This facility is much like a dorm room," said L'Tanya Pugh, outreach coordinator for SFAC. "We want the warriors to be as comfortable as possible. They have already given so much. This is just a little comfort as they transition back into their normal routines."
In the WTB barracks, each servicemember has his or her own room, already furnished with a television and laptop, a bed, desk and recliner. There are gathering places, fireplaces and other rooms and activities to keep the servicemembers in a relaxed environment.
It's not about the brick and mortar - that's not what takes care of Soldiers. It's the people, the processes and the care that will occur on the inside of the facility," said Col. Kevin Brown, garrison commander. "We recognize the sustained conflict that we are in and the sacrifice of their Families, and we've committed the dollars and time to put together a facility like the one here today."
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers served as the executing agent for design and construction for the WTB complex. "I think this is a great commitment to the Soldiers and taking care of them during their time of transition," said Christopher Prinslow, deputy commander, Kansas City District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. "The US Army Corps of Engineers is very proud to have been a part of this endeavor."
According to the WTB website, the mission of WTB is to provide care and healing for the wounded, ill and injured Soldiers, their Families and caregivers in order to develop a balanced structure that is responsive to the Army and the needs of the warriors in the midst of this transition. The new facility will help accomplish this mission.
"This was a wonderful event. I think it will boost the morale of Soldiers because for so long wounded Soldiers have been thrown away when they were injured, but now this shows that the Army does care about them and this is proof of their giving back," said Lt. Col. John Jones, WTB.
The new WTB Complex is located next to the Irwin Army Community Hospital and its new building site just off Huebner Road.