In April 2007, the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army directed the Army Medical Action Plan to resolve the difficulties Soldiers were having accessing care and with the disability evaluation system. As a result, the AMAP established an integrated and comprehensive system of care for Soldiers in Transition, also referred to as STs. In June 2007, the Fort Bragg Warrior Transition Battalion opened its doors to begin caring for wounded, ill and injured Soldiers.
The mission of the WTB is the same now as it was 10 years ago — provide comprehensive medical treatment; adaptive reconditioning; and career and education readiness. While the programs have grown in size and scope over the years, the battalion’s original intent of either returning Soldiers to duty or helping them transition into a productive life in the civilian world remains the same.
The Fort Bragg WTB celebrated its 10th anniversary last week by honoring its roots and the Soldiers it serves.
While the WTB’s core focus to successfully transition Soldiers back to duty or to civilian life has remained the same throughout its history, one of the programs that has increased in size and scope to help accomplish this mission is the adaptive reconditioning program.
On day two of the celebration, the WTB highlighted the program with a wheelchair basketball tournament and adaptive sports expo showcasing adaptive cycling, archery, bocche and other sports that can be adapted to allow Soldiers overcoming injuries and illnesses the opportunity to not only participate, but to excel.
During the wheelchair basketball tournament, STs and cadre members strapped themselves into the chairs and took to the court in a game intended to be more than just a friendly competition, but to also show other STs that anyone can play.
“Before coming to the WTB, Soldiers are always told what they can’t do,” said Lt. Col. Phillip Brown, commander, Fort Bragg WTB, who also participated in the tournament. “We’re here to tell them what they can do. They can swim. They can do yoga. They can do art therapy. They can play basketball.”
The culmination of the celebration was an adaptive cycling ride across the installation featuring a wide variety of bicycles designed to enable riders of all abilities, including a few bikes that were pedaled using hands instead of the feet. The ride was followed by a job fair with companies conducting on-site interviews and even hiring a few individuals on the spot. More than 115 people, including STs and veterans, participated in the event.
Since the Fort Bragg WTB’s inception, more than 8,300 Soldiers have come through its doors. Of those, about 45 percent returned to duty.
Over the years, the population of the WTB has decreased, consistent with the downsizing of overseas deployments. The demographics of the unit have changed, as well, with the unit providing care for more Soldiers healing from injuries received during training and illnesses.
While the barracks are not as full as they used to be, Brown says that the mission of the WTB is just as important as it ever was.
“There is still a need for the WTB,” said Brown. “It’s an enduring mission and a responsibility we have to serve our wounded, ill and injured Soldiers. We owe it to our fellow service members to care for them and their Families.”