By Liz Adrian, ASCJune 23, 2011
Rock Island, Ill. -- The Community Based Warrior in Transition Unit - Illinois held a muster here, June 12-17 giving new CBWTU-IL members an opportunity to learn about the services available to them.
On June 13, the crowd of more than 50 Soldiers and their Family members heard a panel presentation by one former Soldier and two current Soldiers who were assigned to CBWTU-IL and recently released. All three shared their personal accounts of the CBWTU-IL program with the crowd.
CBWTU is a program committed to the care of Soldiers wounded or injured hile serving in support of overseas contingency operations. The focus is to enable Soldiers to heal at home with the support of their families and communities - while the CBWTU aids them with administrative support and medical case management. CBWTU-IL is headquartered at Rock Island Arsenal and cares for Soldiers in 17 states.
In 2007, retired Staff Sgt. Danielle Francis was told she had a year to live after doctors found a brain tumor, likely the result of an accident in which a steel plate fell on her head while she was building a bridge in Iraq. She was sent back to the United States, where she bounced around the country having surgeries " including a cesarean section delivery of her daughter, made necessary by her high-risk status.
“This entire time no one was teaching me how to do anything, I was doing it all on my own,” said Francis.
Assistance came in May 2008, when the new mom of a baby girl received a call about CBWTU-IL. She came under the care of the CBWTU-IL and her inclusion in the program served as an important impetus for her.
“This program made me realize you have to be your own advocate,” Francis said. “No one is going to do it for you. Sometimes you have to push them to do it, but they will do it. No one is going to make you get better, you have to want to get better.”
She was released from the CBWTU and retired from Army service in May of this year.
In explaining his experience with the CBWTU-IL, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Joseph W. Abbott told the crowd that he was called back into service after not being in uniform for 15 years. He was sent to Iraq where he injured both of his shoulders, and was then sent to Fort Dix, N.Y., in December 2009. He had two surgeries to repair his shoulders and was assigned to CBWTU-IL in June 2010.
CBWTU-IL assisted Abbott with his paperwork and physical therapy so that he was able to make a full recovery. As of May 2011, he was awaiting another assignment.
“It’s a great program they have and there are people with a lot of years of experience,” Abbott told the crowd. “Take advantage of it. They will help you if you want to stay or they’ll help you retire, find employment or increase your education.”
Spec. Mitch L. Chapman shared how the CBWTU-IL helped him go from a member of the Illinois National Guard to a full-time employee of the Rock Island Arsenal. As part of the Illinois National Guard, he was sent to Afghanistan, where he suffered a back injury. He was medevaced, sent to Germany and then Walter Reed. After his time in hospital care, he was told about CBWTU-IL and sent home to recover.
“I came here and all my troubles went out the door,” Chapman said. “This program was one of the best things that happened to me. If you need something, just call and they’ll take care of you.”
Chapman was released from CBWTU-IL last May and, with the help of CBWTU-IL, now works as a guard for the Rock Island Arsenal police department. He still serves as a National Guard Soldier in drilling status under the Delta Co. 634th Forward Support Company from Galva, Ill.
More than 1,800 Soldiers have received assistance from the CBWTU-IL.