WCTP provides Soldiers a blueprint for success

WTU Force Structure Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Jensen poses with his son 11 year-old son Aiden (Photo Credit: (Courtesy) Jeffrey Jensen)

By Annette Gomes, Warrior Care and Transition

January 11, 2017 - Frequent moves, credit card debt and separation anxiety, many military families will face these challenges' at some point during and after a deployment. It's a situation Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Jensen says is all too familiar.

"Listen, when you're a young Soldier, carefree, the world is your oyster, banks love you, to them you have A-1 credit, so you really don't know what lies ahead once you're ready to retire, medically or otherwise," said Jensen. "Your house of cards will come tumbling down if you don't plan. How many people honestly know about budgeting before they go into the military?"

After multiple deployments and physical injuries, Jensen medically retired in 2014. The California native gives his Warrior Transition Unit at Joint Base Lewis-McChord credit for helping him get on track and guiding him through the medical board and transition process. Jensen along with a collaborative team at the WTU established his Focused Transition Review, a detailed plan for transition and focused on all areas of care and potential issues that may arise when getting out of the military and transitioning to civilian life.

Jensen entered into the U.S. Army Wounded Warrior Program (AW2), a major component of the Army's Warrior Care and Transition Program at the Warrior Transition Units that supports severely wounded, ill and injured Soldiers, Veterans, and was paired with an AW2 advocate. The advocate helps guide the Soldier throughout the recovery and transition process to reach a "Path to Independence" as well as educates the Soldier on the benefits and resources available. Together they collaborate to set goals and resolve issues for the Soldier and his family's future to meet their personal needs and abilities in order to have a successful transition.

"I really came home to a problem, and I mean problem with a capital 'P'. Particularly when you have a family and it's more than just you that you have to think about," Jensen said.

AW2 Advocate and South Region Contract Supervisor, Jeremy Horsley, helped Jensen establish a transitional track out of the Army and laid the foundation for him to receive a mortgage free home with a three year financial mentorship program. Jensen has completed the program and now has the deed to his home and financial stability for his family. "Horsley is a walking encyclopedia of knowledge. He's a rock star and the program gives you the tools to rebuild your life ahead. He genuinely, really cared."

Horsley says it's important to have a stable foundation so Soldiers can lead healthy and productive lives in their communities.

"We provide the path, they pick the direction. We ask the fundamental questions, where will you and your family live? Do you have an educational plan or employment plan together? How will you feed your family? You have to understand these people are not numbers and its imperative we show them we care," Horsley explained. "Our Soldiers go through a very stringent review process at the WTU's upon exiting the military. Yes there's a problem sometimes, but the bottom line is how do we work as a team of Nurse Case Managers, and Social Workers to find a solution and help these Soldiers complete their mission? You have to plan ahead when getting out."

Jensen is thankful for the help he has received from Horsley and AW2 that helped him establish a financial plan and set him up for success, "You have to think and plan strategically. Transition is not easy. Anything you reach for in life needs a strong foundation and that's the bottom line if you want to be successful."