FORT HOOD, Texas (June 11, 2012) -- Fort Hood Warrior Transition Brigade's new $62 million campus to take care of the Army's wounded, injured and ill Soldiers is officially open.
In June 6 ribbon-cutting ceremonies held in front of the new five-story barracks, Lt. Gen. Donald Campbell, III Corps commanding general, said the new Warrior Transition Brigade, or WTB, campus demonstrates the Army's long-term commitment in caring for Soldiers in Transition and their families.
"We're proud to say that we're opening up a wonderful facility today," Campbell said. "It's the total care commitment the Army has in taking care of wounded warriors and their families to make sure they continue to heal and to continue serving this great country in a number of fashions either in uniform or back into their community as a great civilian that had a great experience in our wonderful Army."
Fort Hood's new Warrior Transition Brigade new 15-acre campus includes a 30,137 square-foot battalion headquarters, a 15,000 square-foot company headquarters, a 192,000 square-foot 320-person barracks and a 15,000 square-foot Soldiers and Family Assistance Center that includes child-care facilities and a modern playground.
Previously, facilities and services used in caring for the Army's wounded, ill or injured Soldiers were scattered across Fort Hood. With the opening of the new WTB campus, services for Soldiers and their families are now centrally located and within walking distance.
Col. John Kolessar, WTB commander, told the 300 plus crowd the opening of the new campus is not only a great day for Fort Hood, but more importantly, demonstrates the Army's mission of improving care for its wounded, injured or ill Soldier.
"The WTB campus is the culmination of a five -year plan to provide the best housing and support for our Soldiers," Kolessar said of the brigades' 2008 beginnings that started in trailers on Battalion Avenue. "Today, we move into state of the art facilities that accommodate all our Soldiers, including those with special needs due to illness, injury or wounds. The campus setup is truly ideal because now most of the programs and services, including the hospital where our Soldier receives treatment, are located within walking distance."
Since its inception August 2008, the Fort Hood Warrior Transition Brigade has served more than 2,500 wounded, ill or injured Soldiers. The mission of the WTB is to provide command and control, primary care, rehabilitation and case management for Soldiers in Transition to ensure that the Soldier receives the appropriate medical care and administrative support so he or she can fully return to duty or transition back as a veteran into the civilian community.
Campbell, as III Corps commander, ensured the Soldiers in transition that he is committed to WTB's mission of healing and transitioning, as well as honoring the WTB's motto of "Soldier First; Soldiers Always."
"You're 'Soldiers First' because this facility focuses on your needs as a wounded Soldier. It focuses on you as a patient. It focuses on your families, and it focuses on your care providers," he said, "because now the headquarters and hospital are now within walking distance."
"You are 'Soldiers Always' because this facility was built to last 25 years without renovation," Campbell said, touching on the new complex's eco friendly features such as solar-power panels to reduce water heating consumption, local drought-resistant vegetation to reduce watering needs and a campus design that reduces foreign water runoff that not only increases durability but also will reduce Fort Hood's energy bill.
The new barracks, which can house up to 320 Soldiers, includes a selection of Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant rooms with roll-in showers, kitchen counters and desks to accommodate wheel chairs and wheelchair-accessible washer and dryers. Handrails are installed throughout hallways, as well as in all private bathrooms. Each room is equipped with a single bed, computer desk with hutch, walk-in closet, ceiling fans, full-length mirror, night stand, ergonomic task chair, dresser and lamp.
All four buildings are eco friendly with design solutions that conserve energy, water efficient and self-sustainable. The buildings have solar panels that provide about 30 percent of energy used to heat hot water as well as standing seam metal roofs that lower the buildings' solar reflectivity index, which reduces heat and cooling costs.
Other energy efficiency enhancements include motion sensing lights, high-efficiency window systems and non-water using urinals that use a biodegradable liquid for sanitary and odor free environment and dual flush toilets. The battalion operations building is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Silver Level certified.
Landscaping considerations include using native trees and grass that are grouped together by similar watering needs and selected for their hardiness, availability and drought tolerance.
The WTB campus courtyard includes two bubbling water features for focal point and calming effect, bicycle racks to promote bicycle commuting and cut down on vehicle carbon emissions, sheltered bus stops, improved courtyard travel with lean rails and benches for multiple rest stops and pedestrian walkways with direct entry and exit access.
The WTB complex, by using durable finishes and efficient systems, is designed for a 25-year life span before renovation. It has an estimated 50-year life span with renovations.
Kolessar thanked II Corps and Fort Hood for their support in fulfilling the promise made to wounded and injured Soldiers on the battlefield, in emergency rooms or during an appointment that "Everything is going to be all right. We're going to take care of you."
"You haven't given us just a collection of buildings," he said. "You've given us a home that continues to validate the WTB's motto of 'Soldiers First; Soldiers Always.'"