August 6, 2012
By Suzanne Ovel
JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. (Aug. 6, 2012) -- Under Secretary of the Army Joseph W. Westphal met with Madigan Healthcare System Warrior Transition Battalion Soldiers and toured the WTB billets July 30 as part of his visit to Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
Westphal, who is the No. 2 civilian leader in the Army, spoke on the importance of getting the warrior transition unit mission right.
"First of all, we are obviously putting a tremendous focus both with the Army and Department of Veterans Affairs to make the transition of Soldiers from the military service to Veterans as seamless as possible, as quick as possible, as effective as possible, as caring as possible. And, so, that's something that we don't necessarily believe that we've got it right every time; it's going to be a constant process of evaluating and looking and seeing what we can do better every single day," Westphal said.
He also emphasized that while the Army's next engagements are unknown, the Army will continue focusing on WTUs. Westphal previously told Soldiers Magazine that the Army is committed to investing resources in not only treating wounded Soldiers today, but ensuring that they'll have the long term care they need, and also helping them integrate back into the work force and their local communities.
"As we drawdown, we don't know what the challenges around the corner are going to be, what the demands on our forces are going to be... as we look around the world it is very unstable in terms of environment. So we need to ensure that warrior transition units not only continue to be effective, (also that) we understand how to manage them, how to distribute them around the country, how to capitalize on the skill and the quality of people who are there. And always think about what should we do better, how we can do this better, how we can better serve our Soldiers in that transition," he said.
The under secretary also spoke to the quality and commitment of Madigan staff. "We have an incredibly committed workforce at Madigan-- an incredibly committed group of doctors and professionals, staff members and counselors and others, the nursing corps and others, that are just absolutely the best in the world and they have been providing a service and support to our Soldiers through some of the hardest, most difficult times, and if I had a chance to stand in front of them, I would just thank them. I would just thank them for what they do, (and) I would appreciate the commitment that they make," Westphal said.