By Spc. Melissa Stewart, Task Force Spartan Public AffairsAugust 8, 2011
FORWARD OPERATING BASE PASAB, Afghanistan, Aug. 8, 2011 -- American Soldiers are seen as the embodiment of American values, standing together as a team, fearless in the face of danger, determined to protect and defend the U.S. Constitution. Combined Task Force Spartan Soldiers -- with the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division -- truly demonstrated their commitment to joining as a team, while living by a mantra of the Warrior Ethos: never leave a fallen comrade.
CTF Spartan’s wounded warriors gave their all, some of whom have lost arms and legs during the brigade’s current deployment to Kandahar province, Afghanistan, and even though these Soldiers are being treated back in the United States for their injuries, it does not mean that their fellow Spartan Soldiers have forgotten them while still engaged in combat operations.
Col. Patrick D. Frank, 3BCT commander, and Command Sgt. Maj. James Carabello, 3BCT command sergeant major, hosted a video teleconference from Forward Operating Base Pasab, Aug. 2, with wounded Soldiers from various battalions in CTF Spartan.
Frank, Carabello and several other Spartan Soldiers, crowded into the brigade conference room here to speak with five wounded warriors from Task Force Spartan, currently recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio.
The CTF Spartan commander emphasized that while thousands of miles separate the two groups, they share one bond -- being members of the Spartan Brigade.
“Every one of you is a part of our team,” Frank said to the Soldiers. “Whether you want to stay in the Army, pursue education, or go straight into the work force, 3BCT will be behind you 100 percent. That’s not only from myself and the sergeant major, that is from every one of the 3,500 Spartans still here.”
Col. Gregory D. Gadson, director of the U.S. Army Wounded Warrior Program and former colleague of Frank, was also at the conference to hear the Soldiers’ reports and offer any assistance straight from the top.
“You won’t find a better field artilleryman than the guy you are sitting across from,” Frank said of Gadson to the Soldiers at Walter Reed. “He is in charge of the wounded warrior program. I really wanted him to be here because he has so much to offer (and) he can help every Spartan (there). I would like him to see what he can do to help you guys out and also to help your families out.”
Gadson is well prepared to help Spartan Soldiers because he too was wounded in combat, losing both of his legs to an improvised explosive device, and chose to stay in the Army to help other injured Soldiers. That connection brought something special to the process of helping Soldiers recover from traumatic events, because he knows firsthand what it is like to overcome an extremely traumatic event.
“We’re just a work in progress until they put us six feet under,” Gadson said to the injured Soldiers about the struggles of recovery from a traumatic injury or event. “We recognize that the transition could be difficult.”
Spartan brigade’s leadership wanted to ensure that their wounded Soldiers were being cared for, even though they are no longer fighting in Afghanistan anymore.
“(We) jumped on the opportunity to see you and talk to you,” Carabello said. “What can we do to help you out?” Carabello asked the Soldiers gathered around the video screen. “You guys are always going to be a part of this brigade.”
Frank and Carabello asked every one of the Soldiers what their goals for the future were, and how they could help them and their families. They also made sure that they knew all the Soldiers still deployed to Afghanistan were rooting for them.
“Everywhere we go we have Soldiers, your buddies, asking about you. They are constantly asking about what’s going on, where are you going to be, are you coming back,” Frank said.
The Soldiers at both Army hospitals seemed very positive about their futures and prognoses. When they went around the room, each listed several different goals that they had, from returning to active duty, going to school, or just being with family for a while. A Spartan Soldier, who was in a wheelchair at Brooke Army Medical Center, even had his fiance and sister sitting next to him during the conference, and planned on getting married soon.
One wounded Soldier from 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, even asked Frank and Carabello to make sure his company got a few cases of “Monster” energy drinks.
This was the first time that Spartans has had a video teleconference with Soldiers at stateside hospitals, but it will not be the last, they promised.
Frank and Carabello pledged to keep track of all the injured Spartan Soldiers being treated in the U.S., while keeping in contact with them throughout the deployment, to make sure they get the help they need, whether it is physical recovery, or finding a new place for them in the Army or in the civilian world.