Monday, January 12, 2009

Riley to build complex for wounded soldiers

Riley to build complex for wounded soldiers

By John Milburn - The Associated Press
Posted : Saturday Jan 10, 2009 16:07:28 EST

FORT RILEY, Kan. — With earth movers rumbling outside, officials broke ground Friday on the Army’s first permanent complex devoted to healing wounded soldiers.

The $52 million Warrior Transition Complex will replace the temporary, modular buildings that have been in place for more than a year next to Fort Riley’s Irwin Army Community Hospital. The new facilities include barracks space for 138 wounded soldiers, administrative space and the Soldier and Family Assistance Center.

The Warrior Transition Battalion was established as part of the Army Medical Action Plan, which was developed following disclosures in 2007 of conditions and treatment of soldiers at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Brig. Gen. Perry Wiggins, commander of Fort Riley and the 1st Infantry Division, said building the permanent complex demonstrates the Army’s commitment to helping soldiers wounded in combat.

Soldiers assigned to the battalion receive help with medical appointments, access to any and all benefits and contact with their units. They remain with the battalion until they are cleared to return to duty or are discharged from the Army.

Local, state and federal officials worked for two years to land the project, Wiggins said. The effort included demonstrating community support by starting an intern program for soldiers to develop other skills while they healed.

Expected to be complete early next year, the complex will be adjacent to a new $400 million hospital expected to open sometime in 2013. The Army is also refurbishing another building to house a traumatic brain injury center.

“I know this isn’t the end state, but the Army’s come light years,” Wiggins said. “It’s what we need to do for our soldiers who sacrifice a great deal.”

Sgt. 1st Class Barry Flannagin, 47, of Muscle Shoals, Ala., will have to leave the Army after 19 years because of wounds caused by an improvised explosive device in Iraq. But he will continue working in the area where he is interning in a civilian job.

“I think they’re doing their best to provide the best care to each soldier, tailored to each soldier’s individual needs,” Flannagin said.
////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////They must count on needing Warrior Transition Units for the foreseeable future to spend this kind of money on permanent buildings

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