The Albuquerque District is one of a handful of districts in the Corps directly benefiting from the expertise of wounded soldiers assigned to fulfill key staff positions as part of the “Warriors in Transition,” or WT program.
The program supports soldiers who have been injured or wounded in service. To qualify, a soldier must work, live and receive treatment near his or her home; require “complex” medical treatment for at least 90 days or longer; and have spent at least 30 days at a medical treatment facility.
At the moment, Master Sergeants Bernie Lujan, the chief of security, and Fernando Vasquez, the chief of internal review, are part of the program and working here.
In a recent visit to keep in touch with his soldiers in Albuquerque, Maj. Patrick Castellano met with Lujan and Vasquez to check in and observe their work.
As a physician’s assistant with the Community Based Warrior Transition Unit in Utah, Castellano remotely manages soldier care in 15 states and performs a wide range of support services for Warriors and the Army.
“I assist our Medical Officer with helping to transition WT’s from active-duty Army treatment facilities to civilian medical care at home,” Castellano said.
When the warrior has healed, Castellano is part of a team who returns the soldier back to his or her unit. In some cases, the soldier is determined not to be retainable by the military.
“My task is then to assemble a medical report as the WT goes through a Medical Evaluation Board process,” Castellano said.
But this recent visit was about getting face-to-face with his Warriors here, just a few of those under his purview. He also wanted to increase mutual visibility between the program, the Army and the District leadership.
The Major said his Warriors assigned to Albuquerque are benefiting from the structured and productive time working here, and the District benefits from the Warriors’ expertise and the possibility of hiring them for civilian employment in the future.
Castellano said he saw the positive impact his Warriors are having on the Corps’ mission in Albuquerque. And, as a soldier, he said he was also pleased to experience the spirit of professionalism displayed by the Albuquerque District’s civilian and military staff.
While working as a physician's assistant with an infantry unit in Iraq, Castellano quickly understood the sacrifices soldiers made, and he said that made the Warriors in Transition program absolutely critical to those wounded or injured.
“Working directly with our WT’s, you see the price they have paid and the sacrifice and loss in service to our nation. These soldiers will most likely never be the same as they were when they raised their right hand to serve our country. I am proud of taking this walk to recovery with them and helping to get the soldiers in position to receive benefits in proportion to what they have lost.”