FORT SILL, OK (KSWO) –Tuesday was a bittersweet day for those who were in the Warrior Transition Unit on Fort Sill because the unit was deactivated.
The unit commander and the first sergeant cased the unit's colors symbolizing the end of an era. WTU helps wounded soldiers smoothly transition back to duty or to civilian life. The Army decided to deactivate the unit in April of 2015 along with nine others across the nation because of dwindling patient numbers, as the number of deployments also decreased. At that time, the Army stopped admitting new patients to those units.
Jason Self spent 11 months at the Warrior Transition Unit after he was injured during his last tour in Iraq. He says doctors thought sending him to his home state would be best for his treatment. After Self was discharged from the unit, he transitioned into civilian life where he works as an aide to an Oklahoma congressman.
"The process of getting that care, it was spot on. They helped with the physical aspect and the mental aspect also. I mean, so, I was getting the care from both sides that I needed," Self said.
With units across the nation closing, it will make it harder for Self and others like him to be closer to home while getting treatment. WTU's Battery Commander Captain Fermin Gonzalez says with the number of people needing the transition unit lowering, closing some made sense.
"We have to realign resources. There is no need to fund separate little companies when you have a large-sized battalion with bigger staff to take care of these soldiers," Gonzalez said.
While downsizing is something that needed to be done, Self says it's hard to accept.
"It's kind of bittersweet honestly. Now that we're standing down troops, it's really good that at this point we don't really need it, but at the same aspect, all soldiers deserve the same kind of care of the Warrior Transition Unit. So, it's kind of bittersweet," Self said.
However, Gonzalez says there is a silver lining with the unit's deactivation.
"In my business, bad business is good business. We don't want injured, hurt men...wounded warriors. We want them to be online ready to deploy," Gonzalez said.
The unit's motto is 'Rise Again, Fight Again.' Gonzalez says the barracks are still there so, if something were to happen, and they needed to reactivate the unit, they could.
He says reactivating it would be an easy transition since those who were working at the unit were relocated to Reynolds Army Community Hospital on post.
The barracks won't stay empty because single doctors from RACH have started moving into them.