Friday, March 28, 2014

Gaining Understanding of the WTU...maybe?

*Warning* This post is being published unedited, poor grammar and all. (Sorry honey.) I want it unedited so it's purely my thinking and not clouded with military correctness.

First I want to say that there are some very good people that work on my husband's care team in the Warrior Transition Brigade.

I will try to explain this from my point of view to give my understanding of how it operates. There are two sides to the WTU. One is medical and one is military. Regardless of the advice from the medical side the Army side has the final say. They can and will do whatever they want.

On the medical side there is a Primary Care physician (that you don't get to chose, you are assigned to.) A nurse case manager and a social worker. Of course the soldier will also have his appointments with his own counselors, Doctors, specialists, etc.

On the military side there are different levels. The main being Company, Battalion and then Brigade. There are more levels but those three seem like the most important for what I'm trying to say.

The Company Commander is a Captain from what I've always seen. They are the closest command to the soldiers. That still is not very close. In between the Soldier and this Commander is a 1st Sergeant, Platoon Sergeant and a Squad Leader. My initial impression of this person was positive. My impression fairly rapidly changed. I am trying to be understanding that he had some personal losses that appeared to be affecting his treatment of my husband. I will accept that, it sadly happens to us because we are human. The turning point will come if he tries to correct it.

If you need anything you start at the Squad Leader who then takes it to the Platoon Sergeant, then to the 1st Sergeant and then the Company Commander. Often times issues are taken care of and the information never gets sent up the line. This means that the Company level Commander only sees things that usually get to a point where it's just not good. At this level we have seen a breakdown of communication. We know this from comments from the Chain such as "I didn't know that."

The next level is the Battalion Commander. From what I've observed is this person is a Lieutenant Colonel. He is over all the Companies in the Battalion. I'm not really sure how many companies there are but there are hundreds of soldiers in WTU. My impression of the Battalion Commander here is a good one. This Commander has even gone out of his way to talk to me one on one. That is something I greatly appreciated. I didn't feel I had to defend anything, explain anything or ask for anything. It was just chit chat. I also think he was able to learn a few things that he probably had no idea about during that short conversation.

Then there is the Brigade Commander. He's over the entire Battalion. This is a Colonel. The next level is a General, I have yet to talk to one. I get intimidated enough at the Battalion level. Oops, got sidetracked. Okay, my impression of the Brigade Commander was also very positive. I was quite shocked at these higher levels their capacity for human compassion. The Brigade Commander was impressive in his demeanor and speech. He listened intently to my concerns while taking notes. He remained non-committal with any answers or solutions as any good leader should be. He did take pretty immediate action on a couple of concerns I had. The others, as I would expect him to do, will be looked into to see the best way that they can be resolved. He was honest and said I may not like all of his answers. I can accept honesty.

Then there is the Brigade Surgeon who works under the Brigade Commander. Obviously this is a Doctor of some sort. I do not know what the specialty would be. Doing a quick search I found this:
FM 4-02.21
C-3. Duties and Responsibilities of the Brigade Surgeon
The brigade surgeon is an MC officer (Major, AOC 62B00). He is a special staff officer who plans with
and coordinates brigade CHS activities with the brigade S1. The surgeon is responsible for the technical
control of all medical activities in the command. The brigade surgeon oversees and coordinates CHS
activities through the BSS and the brigade S3. The brigade surgeon keeps the brigade commander informed on the status of CHS for brigade operations and the health of the command. He provides input and obtains information to facilitate medical planning. For definitive information pertaining to the brigade surgeon's duties and responsibilities, see FM 8-10-21

I'm sure this is an educated person that is trained as well as any other Doctor is trained. However, this person sits in an office without ever examining my husband and makes decisions that are contrary to the information of Doctors my husband actually does see. He has in fact made decisions regarding my husband that make no sense at all.

When a soldier is sick or injured their Doctor writes a "Profile." This profile tells the Chain of Command what the diagnosis is, how much they are affected by their ailment and what their limitations are. These are very important documents. These profiles also do NOT have to be followed by the Commander. It was explained to me that "It's in the best interest for the Commander to adhere to a Soldiers profile but they can choose to ignore it."

I believe the Company Commander chose to ignore my husband's dementia profile and had the Brigade Surgeon "Expire" it. Not just one time, but twice and from two different Doctors. Okay, that was unfair. I can't prove the Company Commander did that. I do know that Major Serros expired them and spoke to the Doctors and told them to not put a diagnosis on the profile. One Doctor got intimidated and did what was expected. The other was not intimidated and wrote a new profile, worded slightly different. We'll have to wait to see if he expires it.

The Battalion Commander took time today to just talk to me. Not a formal meeting. Just a running into someone and having some chit chat. He told me that WTU's were relatively new and they had their faults. I can understand that. I actually understand that a great deal more than anything else that has been offered to me. It makes sense because you have all these non-medical people trying to run a military brigade full of sick and injured Soldiers. Yeah, that's asking for a disaster in my opinion.

It seems like it would be easy enough to solve if the Company level Commander would listen to and HEED the advice of the medical side and if the Brigade Surgeon would follow what a Soldiers own medical providers say.

Simple right? Well to me it is. I know nothing in the Army is that easy.

I'm still waiting for the right thing to be done, I think the Battalion and Brigade level want to help. We'll see.


2 comments:

Ellie said...

Brain on over load now.... How do you keep them all straight in your head... who is who and when to do it......

Robin Howard said...

The Army is very structured. It's black and white. By the time the Soldiers get out of Basic training and AIT (Advanced individual training) it's all drilled into their head.

The black and white with no gray area for sick soldiers seems to be part of the problem with WTU.

Swidget 1.0