By Mike Strasser, Fort Lee Public Affairs OfficeFebruary 29, 2008
Fort Lee, Va. (Feb. 29, 2008) While the call to aide Warriors in Transition was answered on Fort Lee months prior, the activation ceremony on Feb. 27 officially recognized the staff and members of the Warrior Transition Unit.
Col. Donna Diamond, Kenner Army Health Clinic commander, and Capt. David Payne, WTU commander, uncased the colors that will be displayed at the new WTU headquarters location at Larkin Hall. The mission of the Kenner WTU is to provide command and control, primary care and case management, and to establish conditions for wounded Soldiers as they heal and to promote the timely return to the force or in transitioning to Civilian life.
Prior to enlisting in the Army, Diamond was a registered nurse at a Veterans Affairs hospital, caring for Vietnam and World War II veterans. She said that she felt she made a difference there, and hoped to make an even bigger impact by joining the military.
"As an Army nurse with over 25 years in the service, I can assure you I am an advocate for high-quality care," said Diamond. "I accept my responsibility in transforming Warrior care with a commitment to compassion, competent care and timely service in battle and at home."
The Fort Lee WTU currently has eight civilian employees who work as case managers and training and human resource coordinators, among other services. Payne, along with a cadre of more than a dozen noncommissioned officers and nearly 50 Warriors in Transition, concluded the ceremony by reading aloud their mission statement. Payne said the words not only inspire Soldiers to heal, but inspire those with this mission to help in the healing process.
"Though we have no arms room or motor pool, we do have the most valuable item in the Army inventory system - Warriors in Transition," said Payne, who took command of the WTU in August 2007. "As it says in our mission statement, 'helping warriors heal,' know that we believe it is a professional and personal calling to help our injured brothers and sisters heal."
The Soldiers assigned to the WTU are focused on that mission of healing, but are also given opportunities to work in various post organizations. Spc. Andrew Heward is a combat medic assigned to the Fort Lee WTU while recovering injuries. Previously attached to the U.S. Army Garrison Alaska, he engaged in photography assignments at the public affairs office. With his personal camera equipment in tow, Heward is currently using his talents for Kenner WTU and the Fort Lee Public Affairs Office.
Another ceremony, addressing additional services for Soldiers and Family members, took place Feb. 29 as the Soldier and Family Assistance Center hosted an open house. The SFAC works in conjunction with the WTU to assist wounded Soldiers and their Family members in matters ranging from social, financial, educational, legal and pastoral services.
"Today's activation ceremony is just one of many steps we are taking to address Warrior care and administrative needs in support of and in fulfilling the Army's medical action plan," said Diamond. "It also fulfills the promise to never leave a fallen Warrior."