By Megan Locke Simpson, Fort Campbell Courier staffNovember 18, 2011
FORT CAMPBELL, KY, Nov. 17, 2011-- Fort Campbell ushered in a new level of care for wounded warriors Tuesday as the community gathered for the Warrior Transition Battalion Complex's ribbon cutting ceremony.
The completed facility, which houses barracks, headquarters buildings for the battalion as well as two companies and the Soldier and Family Assistance Center, is designed to help wounded Soldiers with resources and medical care as they make the decision to continue active duty service or enter into civilian life. The 15,000-square-foot SFAC opened in July 2010, and is located across the street from Blanchfield Army Community Hospital.
The facility opens the possibility of one-stop care for wounded, ill and injured active duty, Reserve and National Guard Soldiers. After being wounded in a roadside improvised explosive device attack in Afghanistan's Kandahar province, Pfc. Geurlande Souffrantpierre experienced firsthand what it's like to recover with help from the Warrior Transition Battalion.
"Going from doing everything yourself to having to depend on people for everything … it's just really hard," said the Soldier, who only began walking unassisted about a month ago.
"Being in WTB and having that as a resource, it helps a lot."
Fort Campbell is one of many installations to update or construct facilities to meet the needs of the Army's wounded warrior population.
"This new $31.6 million dollar facility that's behind me is really an excellent example of the Army's commitment to our wounded, ill and injured warriors; and at Fort Campbell and the 101st Airborne Division, we want our wounded, our ill and injured Soldiers to know we are committed to getting them the care they need, the benefits they have earned and the opportunities they deserve," said Maj. Gen. James C. McConville, commander of the 101st Airborne Division and Fort Campbell.
The complex brings Soldiers, Families and caregivers together in a central location to aid the healing process, and shows the advances the Army is making to care for Soldiers affected by 10 years of constant war.
"It represents an evolution in the understanding of how to take care of wounded warriors," explained Dr. Jonathan Woodson, assistant secretary of defense (health affairs) and TRICARE Management Activity director.
The facility places more emphasis on individualized care, as well as making sure the Soldier's Family is taken care of during the recovery process.
"[This facility] delivers the right type of care to those who have sacrificed so much in the defense of this nation," Woodson said.
Funded by the American Relief and Recovery Act, the complex includes rooms for 206 Soldiers. In addition to state-of-the-art barracks complete with kitchens, handicap accessible bathrooms and televisions, it features an outdoor wheelchair obstacle course and a healing garden.
"… We're delivering on a promise to the American people and that is we will do everything possible to care for and return to full functional capability the men and women who sacrificed for this nation," Woodson said. "We're changing how we're delivering care, and we're turning toward a real focus on the patient and the Family that we need to have."
Assistant Surgeon General of Warrior Care and Transition Brig. Gen. Darryl A. Williams, also commander of the Warrior Transition Command, hopes Soldiers will realize the advantages of this battalion and facility.
"I think the biggest benefit is the one-stop aspect of it, where Soldiers can walk out of their barracks, if they need resources," he said. "And the Family support, if their wife needs a babysitter … they can do that, and then get their healing and walk a few meters across the street to the hospital. So it's the idea of having all these resources and facilities co-located at one place."
Sergeant Joshua Medlin helped led tours of the new facility. Medlin came to the WTB after being shot in the face during his deployment to Afghanistan.
"I had a pretty good support system when I got back home," said the married father. "I came straight to the WTU, started undergoing treatment, small surgeries, checkups … Everything here's really been great, actually. Everything I've done has been right here on Campbell."
The barracks and headquarters are not just more accessible to the Soldiers living and working there, which are complete with elevators and ADA-compliant rooms, hallways and more. The new one-stop setup allows better communication with Soldiers and their officers, as well as people who are going through similar situations.
"They're a lot more accessible for us," Medlin said. "I think it helps them out a lot … a lot of them are roommates together. That helps with the healing process. We've got several guys that really don't want to talk to anybody except for the one or two friends they've made here in the wounded warrior battalion. It helps a lot."
This helps Soldiers focus on the positive as they transition to the next phase of life, whether on or off post.
"Life isn't going to stop just because you've been through something that sucks or through a traumatic comexperience," Medlin said. "You may have been through a bad situation or something that 99 percent of America will never experience, but you've got to keep on going because life doesn't stop there."