Jimmie O. Keenan, Army News Service
Va. ó As a Soldier, officer, trauma nurse, military spouse and
mother, I live every aspect of Army health care, and I know what works
and what doesnít.
Spc. Nicholas Williams, who was
wounded in Iraq in July 2007, works out with his new prosthetic
leg at Walter Reedís Military Advanced Training Center, which
opened in September 2007.
(Photo by Heike Hasenauer
is more disappointing than to see other people doubt what the Army is
doing to take care of wounded, ill and injured Soldiers without having
the facts right. It might not make the headlines, but Soldiers taking
care of Soldiers is what we do. Itís our ethos, itís our passion
and itís our job.
the war on terrorism began, the Army faced the necessity of putting
into place the infrastructure to handle the extraordinary number of
outpatients a protracted war generates. I know I certainly did not see
the attack of Sept. 11, 2001 coming, nor did the Army medical system.
We also did not expect to be into our seventh year of war either.
we realized the care requirements an ongoing war placed on the Army,
we moved quickly to bring about needed changes. In less than a year,
we developed and opened 35 Warrior Transition Units, or WTUs, and nine
Community Based Health Care Organizations to provide the necessary
support structure to care for the more than 30,000 wounded, ill, and
injured Soldiers we have treated since the war began.
we provide health care, counseling, and leadership support along the
entire continuum of care, all within an environment mirroring the
Soldierís former unit. This care goes beyond medical care and
includes specialized help with personal relationships, stress
management, counseling and a whole range of offerings aimed at
encouraging each warrior to take positive steps toward overcoming
effort is done in conjunction with the Soldier Family Assistance
Centers which are specifically designed to offer recovering Soldiers
and their families education, vocational, and financial services.
Veterans Benefits Affairs counselors also provide support at these
have come as far as we have because we listened to our Soldiers, and
our medical and personnel professionals. We continue to gather their
thoughts and ideas to further transform the system to make it more
conduct town hall meetings, make available to Soldiers and their
families ombudsmen who are able to cut through mountains of red tape
to provide needed assistance, and operate a 24-hour-a-day hotline
(1-800-984-8523) to provide two-way communication with our Soldiers
and their families.
is not an example of an organization in denial ó (to the contrary)
itís proof that we are agile, adaptable and responsive.
Army Sgt. James Ford and the Chief of Staff of the Army,
Gen. George W. Casey Jr., talk while other Soldiers practice physical therapy at the Center for the Intrepid,
Fort Sam Houston, TX. (Photo by D. Myles Cullen)
(A The Real McCoy Extra)
these WTUs provide our wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers more
personalized care than ever before in our history. We ask these
Soldiers to focus on their healing, and, in turn, we offer them a
familiar environment of support, focus, and discipline. As we wrapped
our arms around all Soldiers with complex medical issues, the WTU
grew because we added Soldiers into the program whether they were
injured in combat, had a sports injury or were going through the
medical evaluation system. We felt that this approach was the morally
right thing to do, and yet over and again I see the Army being
criticized for doing what is right.
need to work on how we communicate our story to the American public
and the media because I find the coverage to be off target. We may not
be exactly where we want to be today, but we are working hard to get
healing process takes all of us. Recently, I met a 14-year-old
daughter of a Soldier who was wounded in combat, and she told me that
when her dad was wounded, their whole family was wounded and needed to
wounds, illnesses, and injuries touch families, communities and
industries ó all of us.
would encourage every American to go visit a WTU or become a volunteer
to help our wounded, ill and injured warriors and our nation heal. To
sign up, go to http://giftstoarmy.army.mil.
serves as chief of staff for the Armyís Warrior Care and Transition
Office in Arlington, Va.)
Warrior Care Month - Open Letter to our Army Communities)