Thursday, November 11, 2010

Wounded Warriors in Transition

In 2004, the US Army reformed the way it took care of its wounded soldiers. In the past, while medical treatments and resources were available, it was often left up to the soldier and his family to find and utilize them, not an easy task when the soldier is not well and is in unfamiliar duty station. The Warriors in Transition Program sought to change this by forming a team around the wounded soldier so that there is coordinated care from start to finish. This is known as the Army Wounded Warriors in Transition Program. (AW2)

AW2 is set up to "care for all wounded, ill, injured military members and veterans wherever they are located, regardless of military status, and for as long as it takes.” Wounded and ill soldiers are assigned to a Warrior in Transition Battalion (WTB) also called Warriors in Transition Unit (WTU) where they receive a triad of care consisting of a squad leader or platoon sergeant to lead the wounded soldiers, a case manager who coordinates the soldier’s care through its various phases and the primary care physician who coordinates complex multiple treatment modalities. There are over 100 Warriors in Transition Units all over the country. Each branch of the military sets up their own way of caring for the wounded warrior. The AW2 program takes care of members of the regular Army, the Army reserves and the Army National Guard. 

  For As Long As It Takes
        Link to video

AW2 is headed by Col Gregory D. Gadson, a highly decorated hero of several wars who in his 2007 deployment lost both legs and injured his right arm to an IED. In 2009, there were some 6,000 severely injured, wounded and ill soldiers in the AW2 program.
WASHINGTON - APRIL 29:  United State Air Force Major Gen. Keith Meurlin (L), director of the Office of Transition Policy and Care Coordination at the Defense Department, talks with USMC First Lieutenant Andrew Kinard (C) before testifying to the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel April 29, 2009 in Washington, DC. Kinard lost his legs while serving in Iraq in 2006 and spent four months undergoing 60 surgical procedures to restore his normal body functions and the following year recuperating at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Key to success of the program is the case management provided by an advocate to the soldier and his family through the different phases of recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration. During his time in the WTB, the soldier’s main job is to heal himself so that he can decide the best future for him between successful continued service in the active Army, Army reserves or successful transition to veteran service in the community. During this process the soldier also may undergo medical evaluation board (MEB) and/or physical evaluation board (PEB) to determine the percentage of disability. About 70 per cent of WTB soldiers are medically retired. Some soldiers return to their unit in deployment. Some remain as active duty soldiers in a different capacity. The advocate is there to assist in whatever decision the soldier makes.

Another important commitment of the Department of Defense is providing care for as long as it takes. Before a soldier is medically retired, the team ensures that he has improved as far as he can before he is transitioned to the veterans affairs system. Members of the AW2 triad of care are highly dedicated and committed to the soldiers they serve.The Wounded Warriors in Transition Program is one way America pays its debt to the American soldier.

I am a Warrior in Transition.
My job is to heal as I transition back to duty
or to continue serving my nation
as a veteran in the community.
This is not a status but a mission.
I will succeed in this mission
Because I am a Warrior
And I am Army Warrior strong.

Wounded Soldier and Family Hotline: 1-800-984-8523 or visit

First published in Qondio 

Contributor's Note A Veteran's Day tribute to those who keep the peace and guard our freedom.

External Links
Army Wounded Warrior Program |

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