Warrior in Transition
Maintenance and Supply Readiness
The Warrior in Transition (WT) is not the only person transitioning. Family members also start a new chapter in their lives when a loved one is wounded or injured or becomes ill. In addition to the WT, the Family is also faced with overwhelming emotional and physical changes in their lives. Family members will naturally mourn the loss of their previous lifestyle and the character of relationships during that time. Transition time is vital for Family and/or caregivers to become engaged in the process and surround themselves with resources and plenty of support. The Family will experience many different emotions throughout the transition period, and possibly following the transition. It is especially important for Families to seek behavioral healthcare guidance for themselves when the WT is diagnosed with post-traumatic stress syndrome to help them better understand the condition, its treatment, suicide prevention, and/or long term effects on their children.
Traditionally, Family members have not readily engaged the resources provided by Warrior Transition Units (WTUs). This failure to take advantage of available resources is likely because Family members are not aware of the services or opportunities or they do not understand how to use the resources or with whom to speak about the resources or opportunities. WTUs exist to ensure Families have access to resources that may prevent financial difficulties and physical and emotional exhaustion as the Family prepares for the WT's transition home. The opportunity for Family support from wound, illness, or injury to home and beyond is ongoing with a focus on the WT's condition, yet is also Family oriented. The WT has the greatest success with transition when the entire Family is involved in all aspects of his care.
During the recovery process. "I take two hours during the day for 'me time' and then work with my husband the rest of day." -A spouse of a Warrior in Transition
The primary source of support for the returning Soldier is likely to be his Family (and at times another caregiver). These individuals can help ensure the WT does not withdraw from others. Families inherently can provide practical and emotional support as the WT copes with stressors related to his wound, illness, or injury. Family interest and education concerning the WT's wound, illness, or injury shows the WT that his Family cares, is concerned, and supports his recovery and transition.
Self-care for Families is also important while the WT is at the WTU. Family members must take care of themselves and spend time with other people, such as friends, church groups, or community groups. Because the WTU can provide numerous resources, Family members can access professional help with WTU assistance if it is needed. Family members can also consider creating a network for mentors with similar experiences and who can provide advice, guidance, empathy, and understanding.
Caregivers. "I spend a lot of time doing research on his diagnosis from the Internet and ask the NCM [nurse case manager] about it." -A spouse of a Warrior in Transition
The Family is usually the primary caregiver, although others may be designated to provide care. The caregiver usually knows the WT best and can provide important information to the NCM, primary care manager, or other WTUs. Caregivers also have the opportunity to seek educational tools when providing compassionate care. Because the WTU does not always provide the Family or caregiver all of the necessary resources, these individuals must be proactive, ask questions, and seek as many resources and opportunities as possible from WTU staff.
Appointments. "Sometimes I have to ask the NCM for his appointments because he cannot remember due to his traumatic brain injury." -A spouse of a Warrior in Transition
The WT should attend every scheduled appointment. Family/caregivers must understand how important each appointment is for the WT, and every effort must be made to help the WT attend his appointments. The WT's squad leader and NCM are the POCs for questions pertaining to scheduled appointments and must be apprised of any difficulties in meeting the timelines.
Town hall meetings. "This is a great opportunity for me to get to know other WTs, their families and the WTU staff." -A spouse of a Warrior in Transition.
All Family members and caregivers are invited to attend WTU town hall meetings. Town hall meetings afford Family members the opportunity to voice questions, meet new staff, gain knowledge of new activities, and seek out educational opportunities.
Attendant/Travel. Family members and caregivers also have the opportunity to escort the WT to scheduled appointments and surgeries. WTU representatives will assist with travel arrangements, lodging and transportation, and possibly financial compensation for acting as a non-medical attendant. WTU staff will be able to answer questions from Family members about escorted travel arrangements. WTU staff guidance on escorted travel is in operation order 07-55, MEDCOM Implementation of the Army Medical Action Plan and execution order 118-07, Healing Warriors.
Family readiness coordination. Family members and caregivers can seek activities organized by the family readiness support assistant (FRSA). The FRSA can provide activities for Families/caregivers and especially for children during the WT's transition. It is vitally important for Family members to stay busy while the WT is at appointments, in rehabilitation, and going to school or working. Some Families become stressed while the WT is assigned to a WTU, and participating in some of these activities can be fun for the entire Family.
Chaplain. The chaplain may need to serve as a mediator to ensure past issues and concerns do not affect the WT's present morale and care. The chaplain develops a comprehensive spiritual care plan (CSCP) with each WT that integrates activities promoting holistic healing in the physical, behavioral, social, and spiritual domains. CSCPs are goal-oriented and milestone-driven for improvements in body, mind, heart, and spirit. The chaplain advocates spiritual healing or well-being with the CSCP. This plan promotes in the WT a state of being where he is able to focus on a future that possesses possibility and promise; can enjoy constructive and mutually satisfying relationships; is able to appropriately accept life's defeats, successes, adversities, and pleasures; and can strike a balance in behavioral, physical, emotional, and spiritual activities for the demand of current circumstances.