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Warrior Transition Unit deactivated

Oct 23, 2009

By Melissa Bower, Fort Leavenworth Lamp

FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (Oct. 22, 2009) - A Warrior Transition Unit was a part of Fort Leavenworth for only two years, but Munson Army Health Center staff said the unit's presence made lasting changes in medical care on post.

Fort Leavenworth officially shut down its WTU Oct. 19. The unit was stood up June 15, 2007, as part of an Armywide effort to change how it cared for wounded warriors. There were 36 WTUs in 2007 with the mission of providing critical support and complex medical management to wounded Soldiers who required six months or more in rehabilitative care.

In May 2009, the Army announced it was closing three WTUs and restructuring six others, according to Army News Service. WTUs at Fort Leavenworth, Fort Rucker, Ala., and Redstone Arsenal, Ala., were closed. Reasons for closing the WTUs included lack of a military bedded facilities and a declining number of WTU Soldiers. There were 12,500 Soldiers assigned to WTUs in June 2008 and 9,500 in May 2009.

Fort Leavenworth treated a total of 51 active-duty, Reserve and Guard Soldiers through its WTU.

Col. Andrea Crunkhorn, Medical Activity commander, said wounded Soldiers are still being cared for at MAHC, however those who are in need of a WTU could be assigned to a WTU at Fort Riley, Kan., or Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., or to one of the community-based WTUs, which are administered by the National Guard. She said Soldiers in the "gray" area would be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

"What we discovered in the last 20 months of our operations is that the enhanced care management of our Soldiers and their families has started to spill over," she said. "And as the WTU matured and evolved, we found ourselves borrowing ideas and concepts."

Crunkhorn said there were permanent changes WTU caused at MAHC, including the hiring of a second Physical Evaluation Board liaison officer, a new nurse case manager and weekly wounded warrior meetings.

Lt. Col. Myron McDaniels, deputy commander for clinical services at MAHC, said the weekly wounded warrior meetings are conducted with a doctor, PEBLOs and nurse case manager. Medical profiles are sent in advance and tracked. These meetings will continue without the WTU, evaluating medical profiles at six months, McDaniels said.

"Before (WTU) we weren't tracking profiles," McDaniels said.

Luana Schneider, mother of retired Sgt. Robert "Scott" Stephenson praised the post WTU.

Stephenson was wounded in Iraq in 2006, with burns on more than 66 percent of his body and a shrapnel injury in his stomach. Stephenson later lost his lower left leg.

Schneider, who lives in Atchison, Kan., said her son was in the Fort Leavenworth WTU for about six months up to his retirement. The WTU cadre called and checked on him while he was at an out-of-state hospital.

"I thought it was a great program and it allowed us to bring him home," Schneider said.
Stephenson is now a student at Benedictine College.

"You will always be a Munson Soldier and a Fort Leavenworth Soldier," Crunkhorn told the wounded warriors in attendance. "You are a part of our family, part of the best hometown in the U.S. Army. This will always be your home."

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