By Ms. Maureen Rose (IMCOM)September 6, 2012
Fort Knox dedicated its new Warrior Transition Battalion facility by naming it after a former U.S. Army Armor Center noncommissioned officer, Sgt. Maj. William Sumner, Sept. 5 with an audience of nearly 300, comprised of Soldiers, Army civilians, contractors, civic leaders and representatives of local veterans' service organizations.
The new facility includes the Soldier and Family Assistance Center, administrative buildings, a dining facility, barracks and a turf field for exercising. Located across the street from Ireland Army Community Hospital, the complex is designed to be convenient as well as modern.
"We now have a top quality campus for our wounded warriors," said Col. Bruce Jenkins, garrison commander of Fort Knox, "and it's very appreciated. It's almost a one-stop shop for our wounded warriors."
The ceremony did more than introduce the audience to the amenities of the complex.
"We're equally proud of Sgt. Maj. Sumner who served more than 30 years in a career that spanned World War II, Korea, and Vietnam," Jenkins said, reading details of Sumner's biography provided by Sumner family members, the guests of honor at the day's festivities. "He was awarded the Bronze Star with oak leaf cluster as well as the Purple Heart. He was obviously a Soldier and a leader who set the example for others to follow. Even after his retirement (in 1969) he remained active by volunteering with the Disabled American Veterans, staying focused on taking care of troops.
"Sumner's daughter, Sherry Brinegar, is a nurse case manager at this very complex, so Sumner is the perfect name for this facility," he said.
After the unveiling of a portrait of Sumner and plaques that memorialized Sumner, Maj. Gen. Jeff Smith, commander of U.S. Army Cadet Command and Fort Knox, told the audience what an honor it was to pay respect to a hero like Sumner.
"But let me say this up front, it's not really about the bricks and mortar," Smith said. "It's the human beings -- the care providers, counselors, chaplains -- who will help these Soldiers recover from their illnesses, injuries, wounds; $46 million has been invested in this complex, but it would be worth nothing if not for them."
Smith invited a round of applause to thank health care providers who rarely receive enough thanks for all their hard work.
While the facility contains many state-of-the-art technologies, Smith said it was due.
"The Army recognizes that service to our country can take a toll; this has been a long time coming, but it's what we owe our Soldiers," he said. "You will marvel at the resources we provide for Soldiers to recover, but our Soldiers deserve this more than you can imagine. They deserve the best."
Wounded warriors, Smith explained, have one job while they're assigned to a WTB.
"Soldiers will work to heal their bodies, their minds, their souls; their sole mission is to recover," he explained for those visitors to the installation. Addressing the complement of WTB Soldiers, Smith reminded them, "It's your job to get healthy; it's our job to resource that recovery."
After the ribbon cutting, leadership declared the Sgt. Maj. William E. Sumner complex was officially open for business. Visitors were invited to tour the new buildings and talk with Soldiers and civilians who man the complex.