“WOW! I have just met the most amazing group of people”. Karen Grimord, Founder and President of Landstuhl Hospital Care Group is talking about the Navy Warrior Transition Program at Sembach, Germany.
The WTP was started in 2007 and was located at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait. In December, 2012 the Program moved to Sembach. The mission of the WTP is to transition Sailors from combat to more normal activities when they return to their units, home and community.
While Karen was volunteering this year at LRMC, she met the folks at the WTP and toured the Warrior Transition Program facilities at Sembach. Karen writes that during a normal ship deployment, as Sailors returned to homeport the Navy would fly social workers out when the ship approached port. The Social Workers would do a Return and Reunion briefing as the Sailors came into port. When on deployment and working 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, Sailors become locked into a circle of comrades and supporting friendships. Leaving this environment and returning to their own families has the potential to bring up grief issues. This point is emphasized during the Social Workers Briefing for their return home to family and friends. The hope is that will recall the messages given them the Return and Reunion brief and use them if or when needed.
Both Navy mental health providers and Navy Chaplains have been working with returning service members since the beginning of the current conflict. Navy mental health providers realized in 2003, while working with Marines and Seabees, that when service members fly home rather than sail home, the transition provided by the ship-board experience with comrades and buddies doesn’t happen. That’s where this unique program (WTP) comes in as an important step of helping returning sailors.
The Warrior Transition Program is critical to the continued health and readiness of Sailors. WTP follows the Sailor’s completion of his or her tour and prior to their return home. Sailors travel approximately 3 days from Afghanistan to arrive at Ramstein Air Base and then to Sembach, Germany. Each Sailor is provided 3-5 days of decompression time, which helps them get prepared for their return to “normalcy”.
Karen writes about her visit with the Warrior Transition Program, “I have to admit that I have not been as impressed, or felt so in awe of such an operation/program for several years now. Not that LRMC, or other installations/facilities do not have good programs; but maybe I have come to expect it. However, the devotion, commitment and most importantly enthusiasm the staff at WTP have towards their fellow battle buddies, left me speechless. As a Navy Mom, I sat in their short briefing to the redeployed troops and was not only proud of this fine group of people, but also very comforted by the words of the skipper and his staff. This comfort translated into knowing that not only my son, but also others are being well taken care of by the Navy through this initiative.”
Karen continues, “William Butler Yeats once said, ‘A symbol is indeed the only possible expression of some invisible essence, a transparent lamp about a spiritual flame…’ This was very evident as they did their “bag drop”, gear and weapons put down and stored away at the end of their mission. I was struck deeply by a staff member who said that, ‘When they drop their bags, they leave more than their gear.’ It can be emotional for many. As for those at the WTP there is no way to express my feeling of amazement and respect. As a Navy Mom, my most sincere thank you.”
Landstuhl Hospital Care Project is committed to providing comfort and care items to service members serving so far from home. We are happy to partner with the Warrior Transition Program to aid transitioning Sailors and the team that supports them through the WTP.Reported by Donna Bolen as told by Karen Grimord.
Attached are some photos of our wounded warriors on their tour of Germany but more importantly away from the hospital and war zone. The inside of the bus is at the end when we got back to the hospital. In the morning everyone is quite and keeping to themselves. As you can see on the way back they all are talking and having some fun.