March 12, 2009

Warrior Transition Unit holds Healthcare Covenant signing ceremony

By Maj. Cotton Puryear
Virginia Guard Public Affairs

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. —The Community-Based Warrior Transition Unit-Virginia held a ceremony to sign the U.S. Army Wounded Warrior Healthcare Covenant March 5, 2009 at the Founder's Inn in Virginia Beach, Va.

Healthcare Covenant Signing Ceremony

Col. Larry Heisler, commander of Task Force North Atlantic Regional Medical Command, signs the Wounded Warrior Healthcare Covenant during a ceremony hosted by the Community-Based Warrior Transition Unit- Virginia March 5, 2009 at the Founder's Inn in Virginia Beach, Va. The ceremony is designed to recognize Wounded Warriors and to reaffirm the Army's commitment to provide world-class healthcare coverage. (Photo by Maj. Cotton Puryear, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

“This is a ceremony designed to recognize our Wounded Warriors and to reaffirm our commitment to provide world-class healthcare coverage to our warfighters,” said Capt. Russell Britt, commander of the CBWTU-VA. Britt said the unit had about 40 Wounded Warriors in attendance, along with about 20 cadre members, and the unit hosted a dinner for the Soldiers after the signing ceremony.

The covenant is part of an Army-wide program that kicked off during Wounded Warrior Month in November 2008. Leaders from the Army medical community reaffirmed the service's commitment to provide world-class care to wounded Soldiers and their families by signing the Army Warrior Healthcare Covenant Nov. 13 at Fort Sam Houston.

Army Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Eric Schoomaker and Command Sgt. Maj. Althea Dixon, command sergeant major of the Medical Command, signed the covenant during a conference with senior medical officials.

"This is not a flash in the pan; it's a sustained pledge," Schoomaker said. "This is going to be here for the duration as long as we are medics, as long as the next generation of medics are around we're going to be taking care of them (wounded, ill and injured Soldiers) and their families."

The covenant pledges sustained care that is commensurate with the sacrifices that Soldiers and their Families have made, Schoomaker said. It provides for first-rate care in a healing environment for recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration.

The CBWTU-VA is currently managing about 225 Wounded Warriors and has a cadre of approximately 40, Britt said. These Soldiers come from active duty Army, Army National Guard and Army Reserve units across the country, and the cadre is made up of Army Guard and Reserve personnel. About 20% of the Wounded Warriors and about 30% of the cadre are assigned to the Virginia Army National Guard, Britt said.

Col. Larry Heisler, commander of Task Force North Atlantic Regional Medical Command, and Command Sgt. Major Geoffrey Grant, the command sergeant major of the TFNARMC, signed the covenant along with Britt.  

The primary mission of a CBWTU is to provide high quality health care and administrative processing for National Guard and Army Reserve Soldiers while allowing them to live and perform duties close to their homes and families. Soldiers work at an armory or Reserve Center within the confines of their medical condition.

Nationwide, the CBWTU program currently manages over 1,400 Soldiers and is staffed primarily by mobilized Army National Guard and Army Reserve Soldiers who provide command and control for National Guard and Reserve Soldiers undergoing medical treatment in neighborhood healthcare facilities.

At a CBWTU, an experienced nurse case manager manages the Soldier’s care. The case manager coordinates healthcare appointments, tracks the Soldier’s progress, and ensures that his or her care meets Army and TRICARE standards. Medical care is focused on returning Soldiers to their pre-mobilization health status. If after medical treatment, a Soldier does not meet retention standards, he or she is referred to a series of boards under the Physical Disability Evaluation System. The Physical Evaluation Board has responsibility for determining any service-connected disability.

Nationwide, more than 265 ARNG Soldiers are assigned as cadre in support of CBWTUs.

Prior to the CBWTU program, injured or ill Army Guard and Army Reserve Soldiers who remained on active duty for treatment had to live at an Active Army installation. Not only did the surge overwhelm the installation housing and medical capacity, it kept Soldiers away from their families, units, and civilian employers. The CBWTUs have provided command and control, administrative support, medical case management, and medical processing for more than 1,400 Soldiers.

“It is a great program,” said Sgt. Travis Zeoli, a truck driver assigned to the 1710th Transportation Company. “My case manager treats me like her own child and makes sure I have everything I need. I couldn’t ask for more. Anything I need, all I have to do is call and they get it for me.”

Zeoli works in the South Boston armory where he is just a few blocks away from his physical therapist and orthopedic surgeon. After his rehabilitation is complete, he hopes to return to job as a corrections officer.

The biggest benefit of the program is being able to rehabilitate at home, Zeoli said. “I started at Fort Knox for three months doing my rehabilitation, but now instead of being gone, I am home with my family. I get the see them every day.”

The Army Warrior Health-Care Covenant
• We are grateful for the contributions of warriors and their Families.
• We will provide warriors and their Families the highest quality of care and services possible to honor their contributions to our nation.
• We will provide the assistance needed by warriors and their Families during the healing process.
• We will provide initiatives and programs for warriors and their Families that support their transition back to duty or their continued service to our nation as a veteran.
• We will provide an environment that is conducive to healing by focusing on body, mind, heart and spirit.

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