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Army Medicine’s senior-enlisted advisor has ‘pep talk’ with WTB cadre

Email   Print   Share By Gloria Montgomery, WTB Public Affairs
March 21, 2013 | Living
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Army Medicine’s Command Sgt. Maj. Donna Brock “coins” Staff Sgt. Willy Johnson, a platoon sergeant for Co. D, 1st Bn., WTB, during Brock’s a visit to the unit Monday. Brock said fiscal cuts are forcing some commands to eliminate the coining ritual, which is used to recognize Soldiers and Department of the Army civilians for excellence. Brock said Soldiers should spend no more than two years as squad or platoon leeaders in a WTU. Photos by Gloria Montgomery, WTB Public Affairs
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Sgt. 1st Class Nevada Smith discusses cadre issues with Army Medicine’s Command Sgt. Maj. Donna Brock, who met with Fort Hood WTB cadre Monday. Photos by Gloria Montgomery, WTB Public Affairs
Two years tops for squad leader or platoon sergeant duties in a warrior transition unit, said the Army Medicine’s highest ranking non-commissioned officer in opening remarks to the Warrior Transition Brigades cadre, squad leaders and platoon sergeants.

“The reason is that this is an extremely complex job you work in,” said Army Medicine’s Command Sgt. Maj. Donna Brock, who also touched on cadre recognition issues, as well as on the Army’s fiscal health problems during her visit to Fort Hood Monday.

“The Soldiers you deal with have complex issues. And when you have a Soldier you have to take care of every day and deal with the things you deal with, that’s mentally and physically draining on anyone, including the first sergeants and sergeant majors,” she said.

Brock also reminded the 80-plus in attendance during the hourlong discussion at the Mission Command Training Center that being a squad leader in a Warrior Transition Unit still requires educating the rest of the force that assignment to the WTB is not “taking a knee.”

“Let us be real here,” she said. “Lots of folks think you come here to take a knee,” adding that taking a knee to her means an 8-5 job, off on weekends and holidays and spending time with the Family. “I know you all do not do that. This is a very complex, tough job. You are working long hours, seven days a week. It is special duty, and we need special folks to do this job.”

Erasing those misconceptions, Brock said, requires educating others in the Army on the challenges associated with squad leader duties within a WTU, which prompted a discussion about promotion opportunities for senior noncommissioned officers.

“So you have already got a panel with negative feelings about a WTB squad leader. How did they come up with this prejudice?,” one cadre member asked.

“Unless they have been around a WTU, they really don’t know what you do,” Brock told the senior NCO, soliciting suggestions on changing that perception.

While one Soldier suggested making a “Day in the Life” movie about a WTU squad leader, Sgt. 1st Class Guadalupe Reyes offered another solution: require first sergeants and sergeant majors to visit a WTU.

“The only unit involvement I ever saw was when the unit dropped the Soldier off at WTB intake,” said the former platoon sergeant who is now brigade cadre, adding that there are too few NCOs who care enough to even find out what happens in a WTU, much less how their Soldier is doing. “They have washed their hands of that Soldier. Let the sergeant majors and first sergeants spend a few weeks here and get involved so they can see the process and what their Soldier is going through.”

One strike against the WTU education process is its lack of history, Sgt. 1st Class Nevada Smith, a platoon sergeant for 1st Battalion, Company D, said.

“The Army has a history,” she said. “We have a history of the recruiting side, we have a history of the drill sergeant side, but the WTU has no history that others need so they can understand what we do,” reminding the Army Medicine command sergeant major that there are still units who send the WTU Soldiers the unit does not want. Smith also suggested a cadre badge might help eliminate any misconceptions about assignment to a WTU, as well as raise the status of the WTU special-duty billet.

Brock also touched on the Army’s fiscal woes telling the Soldiers that the Army is caught in the middle of congressional bickering.

“Nothing is written in stone,” Brock said, “but it is all about making cuts in the budget, so we – and our children – can survive into the future,” adding that everything is now being questioned, however, the Department of the Army Surgeon General Lt. Gen. Patricia Horoho priorities for fiscal protection include the Integrated Disability Evaluation System, Soldier care in WTUs, behavior health care, the Patient Centered Medical Home process and pain management.

In closing, Brock thanked the WTB cadre for their input and praised them for the job they do.

“The job you have is a thankless one. Hopefully, the Soldiers in your formation are thanking you, because you do a great job with getting them back on their feet and whatever their capacity is when they leave here,” she said. “Our job (Army Medicine) is to make sure we take care of you.”
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