BETHESDA, Md. (Army News Service, Nov. 21, 2011) -- As Army leaders built the warrior care and transition program, they realized the need for a text to assist new unit leaders attending a two-week course at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. This handbook, which was a year in the making, was hot off the presses Nov. 17.

"Warrior Transition Leader -- Medical Rehabilitation Handbook," was co-edited by Rory Cooper, Col. Paul Pasquina and Ron Drach. With all the books delivered, they're now planning for a second printing.

"We recognized from the outset (that) we really needed a comprehensive text to provide insights into how you run these programs," said Lt. Gen. Eric B. Schoomaker, Army surgeon general.

The text identifies what the contributing elements of success are for Warrior Transition Units, Schoomaker said, "and how the comprehensive transition plan -- this aspiration model of healing and rehabilitation -- (can help Soldiers) transition back into uniform or into civilian life -- maybe with a whole new role in life. That's what this text is really designed to do."

As they developed the first program, he said the nurse case managers, the squad leaders, the primary care physician and all the other cadre and support team members built the Warrior Transition Units as they learned lessons about how best to support, heal, rehabilitate and transition Soldiers and their families.

"From the outset of building the warrior care and transition program within the Army -- this has really been built as we learned new things -- we've put new parts into the program and we revised and reformed it," Schoomaker said.

Rory A. Cooper, lead editor, said the book also covers the history of the Warrior Transition Command, the history of AMEDD, explains the models of disability, how disability is defined, provides a little bit of history of the disability rights movement -- especially military-related, and then it defines the roles of the different healthcare professionals in medical rehabilitation.

The handbook also helps non-medical leaders to understand medications, medication interactions, risk factors for self-medication, suicide, traumatic brain injury, and polytrauma, to name a few.

"That's the goal, so Warrior Transition Unit leaders can better support the wounded Soldier," said Cooper, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh in bio and mechanical engineering, physical medicine and rehabilitation, and orthopaedic surgery, along with being director of the Human Engineering Research Laboratories there.

"One of the other things I think is key about the book is we feature a wounded, injured or ill Soldier in every chapter, who has gone on to be successful -- either continued to be on active duty or has transitioned to being a veteran and has become successful. So that people have concrete examples -- you can get through this -- and so leaders can say, you know what, these wounded warriors have contributed to the book and they have been where you've been and here's some of the things that they did," Cooper said.

These leaders, all former Soldiers, include L. Tammy Duckworth, Veterans Administration assistant secretary; Gordon H. Mansfield, VA deputy secretary; and Ron Drach, Department of Labor director of Government and Legislative Affairs, and also one of the editors of the book.

"But we also got some people like Lt. Col. Danny Dudek, commander of the Warrior Transition Battalion at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, who's still on active duty; John Register, who served in Desert Shield and Desert Storm in the Army and has gone on to the paralympics; and Geoff Hopkins, who served in the Army and rode his motorcycle after a night out with friends," Cooper said.

To showcase the book, a one-day course on Nov. 18 at the Uniformed Service University located at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center provided participants with an overview of current medical techniques and programs to support leaders at Warrior Transition Units.

Presented by the University of Pittsburgh and Center for Rehabilitation Science Research at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences, this State of Science Symposium provided students with the latest strategies in treatment, rehabilitation, community reintegration and full participation of people with disabilities.

Course directors were Cooper; Col. Paul Pasquina, director of the Center for Rehabilitation Sciences Research and chief of the Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation at WRNMMC in Bethesda; and Michael L. Boninger, professor and chair of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, associate dean for Medical Research and professor at the School of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh and VA Rehab Research and Development Service.

Cooper and Pasquina sum up the book and the journey of healing by saying:

"Every journey starts with the first step. Healing, recovering and rebounding from wounds, injuries, or illnesses are much like the proverbial story of 'How do you swallow an elephant?' and -- of course -- the answer is 'one piece at a time.'"

"The art of successfully recovering and adapting to a life-changing event is to have a strong support system and set small achievable goals that can be surmounted within a reasonable time and then successively build upon each other.

Cooper said this is a common approach, and all Soldiers have experienced it because it's exactly how the Army converts civilians into Soldiers: "one small goal at a time that builds upon earlier achievements."

For more information about the Warrior Transition Command, visit