By Bryan Gatchell, Fort Polk Guardian staff writerAugust 16, 2010
FORT POLK, La. -- Fort Polk officially broke ground on the Warrior Transition Unit barracks on Third Street Aug. 9.
The new barracks will include 112 rooms to house wounded active-duty Soldiers. The barracks' location on Third Street makes it a short distance for injured warriors to find treatment at Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital.
Col. Francis Burns, Fort Polk's garrison commander, led the groundbreaking crew, which included Brig. Gen. James C. Yarbrough, commander, Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk; Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffery A. Hof, JRTC and Fort Polk command sergeant major; Col. Kelly Murray, BJACH hospital commander; Maj. Robert R. Rodock, WTU commander; and Staff Sgt. Philip Laci.
"This is a great addition to the installation and to the Warrior Transition Soldiers," said Burns.
The Army created Warrior Transition Units in 2007 to consolidate control of medical hold units to ensure consistent quality in medical care, leadership and administrative support to every Soldier. Before the creation of the WTUs, active-duty Soldiers requiring special care would remain assigned to their units. The idea behind the restructuring was to streamline care.
The barracks, which are Phase II of a three-phase plan for Fort Polk's WTU, include a Soldier and Family Assistance Center that is already near completion and a Warrior Transition Headquarters to be completed concurrently with the barracks around October 2011.
Just as the Warrior Transition Unit was created for the sake of medical and administrative efficiency, the new barracks also will be an example of environmental stewardship by improving water, wastewater and electric energy efficiency. Along with the use of recycled materials in building, the barracks is expected to receive a gold certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.
"This means less dollars in the long run in the operations maintenance of the building," Burns said of the reduced environmental impact. "This is a win-win situation."
Ultimately, the new barracks are about the Soldiers, said Burns.
"We've asked an awful lot of Soldiers and recognize that where they live is very important," said Burns. "Soldiers are getting a quality product that is truly commensurate with their services."