By Heather Clark, Fort Campbell Courier staffSeptember 9, 2011
FORT CAMPBELL, KY, Sept. 1, 2011--It has been said that life is what happens when you're busy making other plans. This bit of wisdom can be easier to process at some times than others. When circumstances step in and alter a person's health, well-being and career path, it becomes harder to roll with the punches.
When a Soldier is wounded, be it physically or psychologically, his life can change drastically. As he begins his in-processing procedures for a Warrior Transition Unit, he is faced with medical treatments, counseling sessions and questions about the likelihood of a continued military future.
One of the first things a Warrior in Transition will do during this phase is help construct a definitive plan of action known as a Comprehensive Transition Plan.
"The Comprehensive Transition Plan is a framework that brings a lot of different things together and provides a plan for that Soldier while they're here," said Lt. Col. William G. Howard, commander of Fort Campbell's Warrior Transition Brigade.
According to the Warrior Transition Command website, "the CTP is a seven-part multidisciplinary structured process for every WT that includes an individual plan that the WT builds for himself with the support of the WTU cadre."
Within that framework, a Soldier sets personal goals. It is then up to the five designated individuals (company commander, squad leader, nurse case manager, social worker and primary care physician) to determine risk level and help the Soldier achieve those goals.
"There are really two major tracks," said Howard. "One track is the return to duty route; the other track is for those who are medically boarded out of the military as a veteran and go into civilian status."
Soldiers who are set to begin lives in the civilian sector often have specified ideas for education and career.
"One Soldier, while he was here, wanted to get his GED," said Howard, "and that was something that we, as the command, helped him achieve while he was here going through this process."
For Soldiers who wish to continue their service in the military, the CTP can help establish the map work of training and medical procedures necessary to achieve success. Still, re-enlistment is primarily a matter of Army guidelines, and Howard urges Soldiers to understand the reality of the situation.
"We only have about five percent of our population return to duty," said Howard. "Say you're an 11 Bravo infantry Soldier. There are certain things expected of you, such as carrying a certain amount of weight and qualifying with as assigned weapon. You have to ask yourself, 'Can my body still take the abuse that is expected of an infantry Soldier?' It is a very small percentage."
Specialist Rachael Stewart of Delta Company is part of that small percentage.
"I transitioned to WTU last September, and I received my CTP questionnaires immediately," said Stewart.
Initially deemed a med board, Stewart's plan was to transition out, attend college and begin a career as a civilian. Gradually, that plan changed, and she decided to re-enlist and continue her service.
"The people involved in the CTP helped me make that decision," said Stewart. "They helped me realize that, financially, it'd be beneficial to my Family for me to stay in. They made me realize just how expensive the real world is."
Stewart's advice for future WTs is to give the automated CTP a chance, and to have good plans for both staying in, and transitioning out of, the military.
"It's good to sit down, think things through and actually come up with a good plan," said Stewart. "Honestly, most of us don't really have a plan. We're just flying by the seats of our pants."
While the CTP has been in use for approximately two years, the newly-designed automated system has only been in effect at Fort Campbell for about a year. The new system, according to Howard, is better because the weekly updates and data are available in real time, allowing all involved parties to be on the same page at all times.
"It's a living, breathing document that is being adjusted weekly," said Howard. "I can pull up somebody's name and see how they're doing through the automated CTP. I can read all of the notes and get a good feel about whether or not the system is working."
For Families who want to stay in the know about their Soldiers' CTP, Howard recommends attending Fort Campbell's monthly town hall meetings.
"It's a very informal setting where all the Soldiers and spouses come with questions and concerns," said Howard. "The ones that do come are active participants; it facilitates a much smoother transition for that Soldier as he exits the military."
A smooth transition to life beyond the WTU is the ultimate goal.
"Next to the war fight, there is no more important mission than taking care of our Soldiers," said Howard. "We do that by giving the best care that we can possibly give them and helping facilitate the healing process. They are deserving, and we need to give them everything we can so they can achieve success."
For more information about the CTP, log on to wtc.army.mil/about_us/ctp.html.