Academic journal article Academy of Strategic Management Journal

Quality Improvement and Organizational Change Initiatives: An Analysis of the U.S. Army's Warrior Transition Unit (WTU)

Academic journal article Academy of Strategic Management Journal

Quality Improvement and Organizational Change Initiatives: An Analysis of the U.S. Army's Warrior Transition Unit (WTU)

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION: THE U.S. ARMY'S WARRIOR TRANSITION UNIT (WTU)

In April 2007, the transformation of the U.S. Army Warrior Care began with the development of the Army Medical Action Plan (AMAP), which outlined an organizational and cultural shift in how the Army cares for its wounded, ill or injured service members ("Improving Care for," 2009). Two years later, the AMAP evolved in to what is now referred to as the Army Warrior Care and Transition Program (WCTP). At the heart of that program, the Department of the Army (DA) established 36 Warrior Transition Units (WTUs) and nine Community Based WTUs geographically dispersed throughout the United States five years ago. Between the established WTUs, there are over 10,000 service members assigned or attached for medical treatment ("About the Warrior Transition Battalion," 2010). Although the WTUs were established to render quality medical care and administrative services to wounded warriors, the establishment did not come without challenges.

Since the WTUs establishment, various articles have been published regarding this phenomenon. In one of those articles, a senior fellow of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) think-tank in Washington stated:

Given the inadequacy of government efforts to address the needs of today's service members to date, particularly the daunting issues of mental health and suicide, it is essential that Department of Defense (DOD) and the Veteran Administration (VA) engage private-sector players and leverage their value and impact. (Berglass, 2010, p. 2)

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) (2009) also reported:

      The Army's feedback mechanisms, which include a telephone hotline
   and a satisfaction survey, provide a way for service members and
   their families to raise concerns about WTU-related issues. However,
   while this feedback mechanism may be helpful and important
   information to Army leadership, the concerns raised through these
   mechanisms were not necessarily representative of the concerns of
   all WTU service members and their families. (p. 14)

WTU's Vision, Goal, and Intent

The U.S. Army's WTU vision, goal, and intent are as follows:

Vision: To create an institutionalized, soldier-centered WTU program that ensures standardization, quality outcomes, and consistency with seamless transitions of the soldier's medical and duty status from points of entry to disposition.

Goal: Expeditiously and effectively, evaluate, treat, return to duty, and/or administratively process out of the Army, and refer to the appropriate follow-on health care system, soldiers with medical conditions.

Intent: To provide soldiers with optimal medical benefit, expeditious and comprehensive personnel, and administrative processing while receiving medical care. The Army will take care of its soldiers through high quality, expert medical care. For those who will leave the Army, the Army will administratively process them with speed and compassion. The Army will assist with transitioning soldiers' medical needs to the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) for follow-on care. (Warrior Transition Unit Consolidated Guidance, 2009, p. 10)

To ensure the vision, goal, and intent of the organization is being met, there are two groups of people who oversee the rehabilitation and transition of wounded warriors: the Triad of Leadership and Triad of Care.

The Triad of Leadership (Senior Commander/Command Sergeant Majors (CSMs); Medical Treatment Facility (MFTs) Commanders/CSMs; and WTU Commanders/CSMs/First Sergeants) execute refinements to the WTU entry, management, and exit policy in order to develop a balanced WTU structure and capability that is enduring, expandable, collapsible and responsive to the medical needs of every Warrior in Transition (Warrior Transition Unit Consolidated Guidance, 2009). The Triad of Care consists of a Primary Care Manager (e. …

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