Warrior Transition Battalion-Europe officially ended its distinguished service to wounded warriors in the European theater during an inactivation ceremony May 5 at the KMC Onstage Theater on Kleber Kaserne.
WTB-E hands over responsibilities to the new Warrior Transition Office assigned to Regional Health Command Europe. The WTO assumes the responsibility for helping qualified Soldiers with the application process to a stateside warrior transition unit to participate in a warrior treatment care plan.
Since its inception in 2008, WTB-E has successfully managed the transition process for more than 1,200 Soldiers who were wounded, ill or injured in the European theater of operations. At its height of operations, the WTB-E was in service on 14 separate bases.
“It is our sacred duty as a nation and as a service to take care of those who have sacrificed so much to take care of us,” said Col. Lawrence Burns, outgoing Warrior Transition Battalion-Europe commander. “Not only to help them heal and recover from their wounds, both visible and invisible, but to empower them and their families to set the conditions for their future success, whether they continue with military service or transition to the civilian workforce as a Soldier for life.”
Burns went on to say that it takes a community to empower transition.
“We joined forces with multiple agencies and organizations from in and outside of the U.S. Government, employing a comprehensive approach and collaborative relationships to gain access to resources and services that maximized the potential for positive transition outcomes,” Burns said.
Outgoing WTB-E Command Sgt. Major Leigh Perry expressed her appreciation for the work done by the WTB-E cadre and staff.
“No matter what the challenge, time and again I watched our cadre and staffs succeed and provide the best quality of care and compassion to our Soldiers,” Perry said. “The incredible support received from the garrison communities made their job easier and set our Soldiers up for success.”
Army Medicine directed the inactivation of WTB-E and 10 other WTUs in the U.S. no later than Aug. 1. As a result, all Soldiers in Europe who are accepted for WTU admission will be re-assigned to a stateside WTU.
Brig. Gen. Van Coots, Regional Health Command Europe commander, made it clear that while the WTB-E has been inactivated, the command remains committed to providing the best care for wounded, ill and injured Soldiers in the European theater of operations.
“These Soldiers will still be able to apply for the services and care they need to heal and return to duty or to successfully transition to civilian life,” Coots said. “Commanders will still have access to the resources and services that ensure they can meet the personnel requirements of their unit and still take care of their Soldiers by getting those who need long-term care into the right status and thereby setting their unit up for ‘green’ when it comes to readiness.”
Coots also highlighted that of the 1,200 wounded warriors from units across Europe, Africa and Southwest Asia, many of those Soldiers returned to duty, and the others transitioned to the civilian workforce as Soldiers for life.
“These are cases that benefited more than the Soldier,” Coots said. “They also impacted families as well. For me, each one of those is a success story, a testament of the Army taking care of its own, and an accomplishment of this unique unit.”
The commands the WTB-E served were able to better maintain unit readiness by utilizing the services of the WTB-E, Coots said.
“The WTB-E also boosted the readiness of the Soldiers who transitioned to civilian life,” Coots said. “These Soldiers were better prepared and ready for their transition thanks to WTB-E services. Health Powers Readiness, and the WTB-E mission is a prime example of that.”
Fittingly, the final wounded warrior assigned to WTB-E transitioned back to the U.S. on the same day as the inactivation ceremony.
The WTO is fully operational and is already picking up where the WTB-E left off, assisting commanders and their qualifying Soldiers with the application process and permanent change of station move to a stateside WTU. The WTO’s area of responsibility includes U.S. Army Europe, U.S. Africa Command, U.S. Special Operations Command Europe and U.S. Central Command.
WTO-Europe’s goal is to help commanders maintain unit readiness and help qualified Soldiers receive the care they need to either return to duty or fully prepare them to transition into civilian life.
For more information, call the WTO at 314-590-2767 or 06371-9464-2767.