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Warrior Transition Command Moving in the Right Direction

Friday, February 06, 2015

The commander of the Army’s Warrior Transition Command said he’s committed to treating soldiers and their families “with dignity and respect.”

Testifying Feb. 3 before a House subcommittee, Col. Chris Toner, who assumed command of the transition unit in July, said the program has helped more than 65,000 soldiers since its creation in 2007 and is still doing good work.

“I am confident that the program and policies and procedures that are in place now have the program going in the right direction,” Toner said.

The Army has 25 transition units on bases in the U.S. and in Germany with programs  designed to provide specialized care for every wounded soldier with the help of case managers, squad leaders and clinical and support staff. The aim is helping the soldier and family with immediate needs and to develop a comprehensive plan for the future.

Colin testified before the House Armed Services Committee’s military personnel subcommittee, which is chaired by Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., an Army Reserve brigadier general and doctor who said the program has been valuable but “it has not been without its fits and starts, and has not been without problems.”

Calling the program “highly effective,” Toner acknowledged problems were uncovered at three Warrior Transition Units in Texas that led to changes. “My expectation is all soldiers and family members are treated with dignity and respect,” he said.

Complaints included in an ombudsman report accused the program of “disrespect, harassment and belittlement” of soldiers, Toner said, pledging to keep a watch on complaints.

“It is important that we can rapidly react to soldier and family issues,” he said. “What's also important to me is that we maintain our oversight.”

Soldiers and families also want, and don’t always get, “some sort of prediction on when they are going to be separated and transition to the civilian side of the house,” he said. “It is extremely important to the soldier and family member so they can make that part of their comprehensive transition plan."

“We've come a long way since the days of the medical holding company and long wait times for our injured soldiers. We will not return to that setting,” Toner said, stressing that problems in Texas have been fixed and organizational inspections are underway in other units.

“I am confident that the program and policies and procedures that are in place now have the program going in the right direction,” he said.