Army Helps Wounded Move along; Soldiers Awaiting Discharge or for Return to Duty Gain a Fast Track to Evaluations

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Byline: SEAN HARDER

HINESVILLE - Wounded soldiers waiting to leave the Army or be returned to duty will undergo medical evaluations more quickly under a new streamlined process at Fort Stewart's Winn Army Community Hospital.

Active-duty and reservist soldiers who once faced separate and often slow evaluations now are assigned to a "Warrior Transition Unit." At Winn, it's a battalion-size unit of more than 220 soldiers. Some are recovering from injuries. Others are awaiting medical screenings before deploying to Iraq or Afghanistan.

Under a new Armywide model that took effect June 15, each soldier is assigned a primary caregiver, case manager and squad leader. Their focus: quality medical care and overcoming bureaucratic barriers, said Col. John Collins, the hospital's new commander.

"There is a national focus on this, which is going to really help us fix processes that need to be fixed," he said. "This is a nation that is having to deal with a whole generation of people who would not have survived in previous battles.

"It's a whole nation waking up to a phenomenon. From the national level down, we're making sure we have the resources and processes to take care of them."

Winn was one of 11 bases in seven states the Army sent surprise inspection teams to visit after revelations surfaced of poor conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington. Fort Stewart made the list because of its high concentration of troops and the number of soldiers awaiting medical processing.

WARRIOR TRANSITION UNIT

The focus now is moving soldiers found to be unfit for duty to their final medical evaluation within 45 days.

Spc. Mohammad Zeshan suffered a middle-ear injury during a roadside bomb attack against his 1st Brigade unit in September 2005. A loss of hearing in his left ear, and difficulty keeping his balance, have left him unable to serve. …