By Army MedicineNovember 2, 2011
WASHINGTON, Nov. 2, 2011 -- From advanced battlefield medicine techniques to Warrior Transition Units providing personal support to wounded Soldiers and their families, Army Medicine offers many programs to help Wounded Warriors recover from their injuries and return to some semblance of normalcy.
"Our unrelenting drive to provide world-class care means more Soldiers are surviving their wounds, recovering more quickly and returning to their units or transitioning to quality civilian life," said Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Eric B. Schoomaker, Army surgeon general and commander, U.S. Army Medical Command.
When Soldiers are injured and require medical attention, an integrated system of care helps them heal, rehabilitate, and reintegrate, either back to duty or into their civilian communities as productive citizens.
There are five levels of care making sure wounded, ill or injured Soldiers get the care they need at the right place and right time. The levels serve to triage, treat, evacuate, and return Soldiers back to duty:
Care for a wounded Soldier begins on the battlefield at the point of injury with immediate first aid and lifesaving measures initiated by a combat medic lifesaver or battle buddy. If necessary, the Soldier is taken to a Level I medical treatment facility known as the Battalion Aid Station, for triage, treatment, and evacuation if the Soldier cannot return to duty.
Level II is the first level of care in which surgical resuscitation, basic laboratory, and radiographic capabilities exist. An Army forward surgical team is typically found at this level, together with a medical company with a holding capacity of approximately 72 hours. These medical units are 100 percent mobile and can provide up to 30 resuscitative surgical operations without resupply.
This level is the highest level of medical and surgical care available within the combat area of operation. Level III hospitals are modular, allowing adaptability to a given tactical situation. Army Level III care is provided at the combat support hospital.
This echelon of care is located outside the combat zone and may be provided by a combat support hospital, a fleet hospital, or a fixed medical facility. Currently, most Level IV care is provided at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. At Landstuhl, wounds, injuries, or illnesses are further assessed and treated. Casualties with severe injuries move on to a higher level of care while those with less severe wounds, injuries and illnesses may be able to return to the combat zone.
This echelon of care is provided within the continental United States at fixed military medical treatment facilities. Though every effort is made to evacuate wounded, injured, or ill Soldiers to the medical treatment facility closest to their home duty stations, it is more important for them to be sent to the facility capable of providing the most appropriate care, such as the burn center at the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio.
Soldiers requiring at least six months of rehabilitative care and complex medical management are assigned to Warrior Transition Units at major military treatment facilities located around the world. These Warrior Transition Units closely resemble a line Army unit, with a professional cadre and integrated Army processes that build on the Army's strength of unit cohesion and teamwork so that wounded Soldiers can focus on healing to transition back to the Army or return to civilian status.
Each Warrior in Transition, or WT, works with a Triad of Care -- primary care manager (normally a physician), nurse case manager, and squad leader -- who coordinate their care with other clinical and non-clinical professionals.
WTs have one mission -- to heal. All WTs develop a Comprehensive Transition Plan with personalized goals that allows them and their Families to move forward toward life post-injury.
Soldiers who are unable to return to full military duty are referred to a medical evaluation board and assigned a physical evaluation board liaison officer, or PEBLO, to help steer them through the entire Army process until they separate. Each Soldier is also assigned a VA military service coordinator to help them navigate the VA system.
"We have an unrelenting commitment to the wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers recovering at the WTUs. We are passionate about helping them recover and transition and move forward with their lives," said Brig. Gen. Darryl Williams, commander of the Warrior Transition Command.