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Wounded warriors find help close to home in Warrior Transition Unitby Melissa Bower, Staff Writer
Published: Friday, January 11, 2008 1:10 PM CST
Spc. Joseph Pittala talks with Warrior Transition Unit Commander Capt. Tammy Glascoe and Cindy Baker, of Munson Army Health Center military human resources, as he completes his personal asset inventory Jan. 8 at MAHC. Lamp photo by Prudence Siebert.
Iraq is no place for a Soldier to have a heart attack.
Kendall is grateful for the Warrior Transition Unit - so much that he plans one day to serve on staff for the organization that helped him heal. He was a certified nursing assistant before going to Iraq, but his unit needed a truck driver instead of a medic. Kendall plans to enter a two-year nursing program through Kansas City Kansas Community College this month and return to the medical field, hoping to help Soldiers like himself.
Capt. Tammy Glascoe, commander of the Warrior Transition Unit at MAHC, said the program began with four patients in June 2007. Two have moved out of the program - one returned to active duty and one transitioned into civilian life. There are 11 Soldiers in the WTU, all living off-post with their families in Kansas City, Leavenworth or Atchison. Not all were hurt overseas in combat. Glascoe said patients are assigned to WTU the same way they are assigned to a conventional Army platoon, which helps with organization and self-esteem. Soldiers are referred to WTU, Glascoe said, "whenever they are not able to (medically) function in their unit," which includes psychological health.
Col. Carmen Rinehart, commander of MAHC, said timeframes for medical care are expedited for Soldiers in the WTU. Healing warriors report to a triad care system of a primary care manager - usually a doctor - a nurse case manager and a squad leader. The squad leader is the main point of contact who makes sure the Soldier is able to keep medical appointments or anything they might need.
"They get back and they just want to go home and forget about it," Taylor said. "They don't even know they're injured. Their backs are hurting or they can't sleep, they can't remember things."
National Guard Spc. Joseph Pittala, 40, of Gladstone, Mo., was a gunner in a field artillery in Afghanistan for about one year in 2006-2007. He thought he tore a muscle and visited on-site medical care facilities. A doctor noticed "something sticking out," Pittala said, and told him to take it easy.
Spc. Sean Acree, also of Leavenworth, discovered an old injury from his first tour of duty in Iraq when he was about to leave for his second. He first deployed in 2003. The 30-year-old father of three found out he had nerve damage in his neck, back and shoulders. He is currently working with the 705th Military Police Internment and Resettlement Battalion in administrative capacities. After healing with the WTU, he plans to get a job as a civilian police officer.
Craig hopes to heal so he can re-enter his position with the military in the infantry - even if that means going back to Iraq or Afghanistan.
Munson Army Health Center hasn't been an inpatient facility for more than a decade so Fort Leavenworth as an installation has to make new accommodations for the WTU. This includes:
An Operators Manual for Combat PTSD: Essays for Coping
by Ashley B., II Hart
Down Range - To Iraq and Back
by Bridget Cantrell, Ph.D. and Chuck Dean
Courage After Fire:
Coping Strategies for Returning Soldiers and Their Families (Paperback)
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