It was Thanksgiving Day on a small forward operating base in Iraq. Cpl. Jeremy Caldwell decided to go to the dining facility to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal. As the chaplain began to bless the food, a loud explosion was heard. A mortar landed behind the dining facility, injuring several Soldiers.
Unfortunately, Soldiers fall prey to injuries during deployments, and sometimes these injuries prevent them from performing their daily duties so they may continue to serve their country.
Several employees from the 21st Theater Sustainment Command were once wounded warriors, but still found a way to continue doing what they love.
For Corporal Caldwell, an administrative officer in the resource management office of the 21st TSC, the transition to civilian life was not an easy one. Besides being injured in Iraq and diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, Corporal Caldwell had to deal with the hard truth of knowing he could not perform his job in the military.
“It was very hard for me. I worked in Florida, and it didn’t jive with me too well. It was not the military,” he said. “Once I came to Germany and started working, it was the right fit. It’s more organized and cut and dry like the military.”
“I’m very fortunate to have Caldwell working here, regardless whether he’s a wounded warrior or not,” said Lt. Col. David Clevenger, the resource manager of the 21st TSC. “His work performance is fantastic. I could not have asked for anyone better.”
“I support the wounded warrior program, and if everybody out there is like Caldwell it will be great for the Army,” Colonel Clevenger said.
“He has been a breath of fresh air,” said Karen Keller, the chief of manpower studies for the 21st TSC. “He brings a different perspective to government service work than the average civilian does.”
In his spare time, Corporal Caldwell likes to travel, play golf and spend time with his children. He also volunteers at the United Service Organizations in Landstuhl as much as he can. Corporal Caldwell enjoys giving back to the program that has helped many wounded warriors like him make it through the healing processes.
“I want to be able to be there for the Soldiers who are going through what I went through. I want to be an inspiration,” he said.
Bradford Mitchell, an information technology specialist with the 21st TSC, went through a similar situation as Corporal Caldwell. He was assigned to the Warrior Transition Unit for approximately three years after injuring his back severely during a civil affairs mission while serving in Iraq.
While assigned to the WTU, Mr. Mitchell suffered a bilateral pulmonary embolism, which caused a blood clot to form in his leg. This led to the stoppage of blood flow in both of his lungs. Mr. Mitchell’s situation could have potentially advanced to the point of death had it not been for the attention to detail on behalf of the WTU staff.
“My nurse case manager at the WTU realized I was acting bizarre and immediately I was rushed to the emergency room in the nick of time,” he said. “I was very fortunate to get to the hospital when I did.”
Because of his injuries, he could no longer perform the duties as a noncommissioned officer.
“I was pretty disappointed that I was not going to be able to continue to serve,” Mr. Mitchell said.
Mr. Mitchell now works for the military as a civilian. He assists Soldiers and civilians in U.S. Army Europe with their computer problems.
“I really enjoy the fact that I’m still supporting the military. I’m saddened that I had to leave the Army, but I’m glad that I can continue to support,” he said.