WTU/AW2 Connection
October 2014
Commander's Corner
By: COL Chris Toner, Commander, WTC

I am proud to announce that for the first time in Warrior Games history the Army team took home the Chairman’s Cup—an honor the Marine Corps held for the past four years. Over the past few weeks, wounded, ill and injured Soldiers and Veterans demonstrated Army strength and resilience not only in Colorado Springs, Colorado but at the inaugural Invictus Games in London as well. Army athletes helped the U.S. Team at Invictus bring home 93 medals, and left Warrior Games victorious with a total of 71 medals. To all of these athletes: your ability to continue to push yourselves to achieve your goals inspired and motivated all of us at the Warrior Transition Command (WTC) and throughout the Warrior Transition Units (WTUs), and I am proud of you and all you have accomplished.

In late October, we will kick off commemorations for both the fifth anniversary of the Warrior Transition Command (WTC) and Warrior Care Month (WCM). Warrior Care Month, observed throughout November, informs the military and their Families about current programs provided through the warrior care system. The demands of Army life are great, and it is our honor to support those Soldiers and Veterans who sustain wounds or injuries or who become ill. We uphold this responsibility in our role in executing two major elements of the Warrior Care and Transition Program: Warrior Transition Units (WTUs) and the U.S. Army Wounded Warrior Program (AW2).

WTC’s fifth anniversary honors more than just WTC – it honors the entire Warrior Care and Transition Program, including WTUs and AW2. It’s an opportunity to honor the service and sacrifice of so many professionals who serve this population and the resilience and strength of each Soldier, Veteran, Family member and Caregiver we have ever supported. Our program develops “Soldier Success Through Focused Commitment,” providing each recovering Soldier with a dedicated team of medical and non-medical professionals to help them navigate each stage of the recovery and transition process and a personalized Comprehensive Transition Plan with short- and long-term goals to help them prepare for the next stage of their lives. Some key milestones of WCTP success include:

  • Establishing Warrior Transition Units (WTUs) across the country, including at 26 locations today
  • Developing a scalable program that can best support the needs of the Army’s current wounded, ill and injured population while preparing for the needs of future Soldiers;
  • Guiding the more than 64,000 Soldiers who recovered at WTUs through healing and transition;
  • Supporting AW2 in implementing programs that care for more than 21,000 of our nation’s most severely wounded, ill and injured Soldiers and Veterans;
  • Adjusting to the needs of the population we support by executing changes such as recent force structure updates, which include embedding 13 Community Care Units (CCUs) within military treatment facilities across the country to better support Soldiers recovering at home with the support of their Families and communities.

Looking back at WTC’s five years of focused commitment inspires and motivates. This is an enduring mission for our Army and I am confident in our ability to continue working as a team to impact our nation’s wounded, ill and injured Soldiers, Veterans, Families and Caregivers in the years to come.

CSM Corner

By: CSM Matthew T. Brady

I've been on the road for the past few weeks, first in London for the Invictus Games and ending in Colorado Springs, Colorado, for the fifth annual Warrior Games. Twenty-two Army athletes hopped the pond alongside other branches of our military to represent America as the US Team at Invictus, helping bring home 93 medals. Just days later, 40 Army athletes-10 coming straight from Invictus Games-headed to Warrior Games to compete against representatives from the Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Special Operations. I had the privilege of meeting many of the competitors, listening to their stories and cheering them on as they put every fiber of themselves into their sport. All of these athletes represented our Army and exemplified our warrior ethos. They never accepted defeat, not even when accepting it may have been easier or less painful. They never quit. They united as a team, demonstrating Army strength and resilience. We at WTC are proud of all you accomplished, including winning 71 medals and taking home the Chairman's Cup for the first time. To all of the athletes from all of the services, we are sending you a much deserved "HOOAH!"

We're going to draw on this motivation from Warrior Games as we honor Warrior Care Month (WCM) throughout November and the WTC fifth anniversary, kicking off at the end of this month. Throughout the fall, we want you to show your strength-whether that is in recovery, transition or whatever stage of your career you are in. Check in with us throughout WCM to learn more about the warrior care system, and WTC's integral role in supporting our nation's wounded, ill and injured Soldiers and Veterans as proponent of the Warrior Care and Transition Program (WCTP), including Warrior Transition Units (WTUs) and the Army Wounded Warrior Program (AW2).

Now that Invictus and Warrior Games are over, let's not forget the Army's Performance Triad: adaptive reconditioning can be a pathway to an active and healthy lifestyle. Stay active, eat healthy and get at least eight hours of sleep each night. Stay safe and get out there and enjoy this fall weather.

AW2 Update

By: COL David S. Oeschger

In September, 14 of the 22 Army athletes representing the U.S. team at the Invictus Games were AW2 Soldiers and Veterans. They traveled to London to compete as Army representatives alongside members of all branches of the American military, and brought home 93 medals back to the U.S. At the end of September and into early October, AW2 Soldiers and Veterans competed for the Army team in the fifth annual Warrior Games, helping to bring home 71 medals. On behalf of the staff here at the Warrior Transition Command (WTC), AW2 Advocates across the country and the more than 21,000 Soldiers and Veterans AW2 represents: congratulations and thank you. These events are not about medals won. They celebrate your steadfast commitment to your goals and dreams, to your nation and to your brothers and sisters in arms despite any challenge or adversity.

As Warrior Care Month (WCM) unrolls in November, WTC and AW2 will spend these four weeks educating the Army and the public about all the programs available to wounded, ill and injured Soldiers and Veterans. All of the Army athletes who competed in Invictus Games and Warrior Games are excellent examples of how the warrior care system can facilitate recovery and transition. While many Soldiers, especially those who are severely wounded, feel ill or injured, believe that recovering at a Warrior Transition Unit (WTU) will end their military career, we have so many examples of how these 26 WTUs prepare our nation’s wounded warriors for their next steps, whether those steps lead back to the force or to civilian status. WCM affords us the opportunity to renew our commitment to helping our nation’s Soldiers and Veterans heal by educating the Army and the public about WTC and the WTCP. As AW2 Soldiers and Veterans continue to inspire me each day with their “ready and resilient” outlook, I look forward to sharing their stories of strength as well as information about warrior care throughout the fall.

Soldier Success Story: Invictus Games

“I thank whatever gods may be for my unconquerable soul. I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.” – “Invictus,” by William Ernest Henley

William Ernest Henley’s poem inspires strength and the will to withstand even the most challenging situations, mirroring the warrior ethos that all Soldiers and Veterans possess. This sentiment is reflected in the Invictus Games, an international competition for wounded, ill and injured service members inspired by Prince Harry’s visit to the 2013 Warrior Games in Colorado.

By the numbers:

  • 400 competitors
  • 13 nations
  • 9 sports:
    • Archery
    • Wheelchair Basketball
    • Road Cycling
    • Powerlifting
    • Indoor Rowing
    • Wheelchair Rugby
    • Swimming
    • Track and Field
    • Sitting Volleyball

View a playlist of videos from Invictus Games here: www.wtc.army.mil/invictus_games/invictus_games_2014_videos.html

Soldier Success Story: Warrior Games

Army Wheelchair Racer 1st. Lt. Kelly Elmlinger all about Hard Work, Sweat as She Competes against Men at Warrior Games
By Anna Eisenberg,  WTC Communications Division

Colorado Springs, Colorado – Cupped in the rough hands of the Rocky Mountains, the track at Gerry Barry Stadium opened up to a cloudless sky on October 2, 2014. A light chill clinging to the athletes as they lined their racing wheelchairs up at the starting line, the 100 meter dash was about to begin.

First Lieutenant Kelly Elmlinger, from the Warrior Transition Battalion at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, seemed perfectly in place as she lined up with her fellow racers at the starting line--athletes representing the Marine Corps, Special Operations Command and the Navy/Coast Guard. The lone Army athlete, one other aspect set Elmlinger apart: she was the only female racer.

“I’m here to compete,” Elmlinger said as she lay on her back stretching before her race. “I watched my dad work hard. Whatever you do, you work hard at it.” As she rotated her arms to loosen up her shoulders, she added, “just like this race. Regardless of whether it’s males or females that are out there, you got to work hard.”

Rodney Carson, the Army’s head coach for track, watched from the side of the track as Elmlinger worked her way into her racing wheelchair. “We’re expecting the best out of her today,” Carson said. “She’s a great competitor. It’s all hard work and sweat. She’s put in the hard work and the sweat.”

Carson, who has worked with the Army’s track team for two years, feels that “it’s an honor and a privilege to be a part of Warrior Games.” As for working with the Army athletes, Carson said, “they’re hard-wired to never stop. Their attitude—they come with such a positive attitude.”

The starting gun fired and the racers exploded onto the track. Elmlinger and two Marines led the pack.

“Go Kelly!” her supporters screamed. Among them was Elmlinger’s young daughter. “She knows things have changed,” Elmlinger said before her race began. “At the same time, I am able to show her that just because something bad or traumatic happens doesn’t mean you have to give up.”

A few minutes after the race, Elmlinger warmed up for her next event on the track. “You got second!” Carson yelled out to her when he heard the news. Elmlinger smiled at him as she rolled past, not stopping for a second. She had work to do. Once again the only woman, once again the only Army athlete, once again only one thing on her mind: “you got to work hard.”

See more at: www.wtc.army.mil/warrior_games/warrior_games_2014.html

Adaptive Reconditioning Update

By: COL Victoria Kilcawley

Adaptive reconditioning includes the activities that support the physical, social and spiritual well-being of wounded, ill and injured Soldiers and Veterans, both during their recovery and after their transition back to active duty or to civilian life. At Warrior Transition Units (WTUs), medical professionals work to include adaptive reconditioning in each Soldier’s Comprehensive Transition Plan (CTP), connecting physical activity to the six CTP components: physical, emotional, social, spiritual, Family and career. Activities include physical exercise, competitive sports, arts and cultural programs, fishing, hiking and more. Each adaptive reconditioning activity facilitates recovery in different ways. Sports foster camaraderie and healthy competition, while gardening or music can be therapeutic and help Soldiers hone everyday skills that will help them post-recovery.

Warrior Care Month (WCM) kicks off in November. Throughout WCM, wounded, ill and injured Soldiers and Veterans show their strength through reconditioning, which include competitive sports as well as non-competitive activities, like gardening. Invictus Games in London and Warrior Games in Colorado Springs, Colorado shone an international spotlight on sports as a powerful adaptive reconditioning activity. Army athletes demonstrated their ability to adapt and push forward, even when facing unimaginable odds. The Adaptive Reconditioning Branch at WTC congratulates these Soldiers and Veterans on their strong performances in sports, and thanks them for the inspiration and motivation they provided to other wounded, ill and injured warriors, the Army and the public. 
Policy Update

By: COL Francis Frazier

AR 40-XX sets forth policy and procedural requirements that apply to WCTP operations.  The regulation consolidates policies on the Comprehensive Transition Plan and other WCTP requirements that address the recovery and transition of wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers.  In previous editions of this newsletter and in other communications, we’ve told you that the new regulation will be broad in scope and provide plainly worded doctrinal guidance that crosses the full range of WCTP operations.  One important bit of information to update you on and from which field staff will benefit is forthcoming guidance in the new ALARACT (ALL ARMY ACTIVITIES message) on Entry and Exit Criteria”.  The procedures will be included in both the new WCTP regulation as well as in AR 40–400, Medical Services, Patient Administration, and will help explain and clarify understandings of the requirements on entry/exit.  Future policy changes, amendments or administrative changes to the released AR 40-XX will be handled promptly to keep the publication current. 

As for the status of the AR 40-XX, it is currently in review with OTJAG and its tentative date for release is 31 Oct 14.  Isn’t it exciting, only a few days away!

Comms Update

By: Anna Eisenberg, WTC Communications Division

The WTC Communications Division is dedicated to providing wounded, ill and injured Soldiers and Veterans with access to information and resources that are vital to rehabilitation and recovery. Over the past few months, the Army embedded thirteen Community Care Units (CCUs) at Warrior Transition Units (WTUs) across the country. Soldiers assigned to CCUs recover at home with the support of their Families and communities, with a management structure at an installation WTU. To reflect these force structure changes, the WTC Communications Division scrubbed the entire WTC website to implement updates related to the new CCUs wherever necessary. These changes are live on the website as of September 2014. We will maintain the website and all of our materials so that our nation’s wounded, ill and injured Soldiers and Veterans have access to the most up-to-date information relevant to their recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration.

Finally, the WTC Communications Division sends a special thank you to everyone who supported communications activities at the 2014 Warrior Games: Combat Camera, DMA, DVIDS, MEDCOM DCOM, OCPA, WCP, PAO Gloria Montgomery and all of the athletes and coaches for allowing us to interview you, photograph you and for sharing your stories with us and with the world. Please take a moment to check out the WTC Warrior Games webpage and learn more about the inspirational Army athletes. You can find stories, photos, videos and more here: www.wtc.army.mil/warrior_games/warrior_games_2014.html

The appearance of external hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the United States Department of Defense of the linked web sites, or the information, products or services contained therein. For other than authorized activities such as military exchanges and Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) sites, the United States Department of Defense does not exercise any editorial control over the information you may find at these locations.

US Army Warrior Transition Command
Wounded Soldier Family Hotline: 1-800-984-8523
Online www.WTC.army.mil Blog https://WTC.armylive.dodlive.mil