With American combat operations in Afghanistan winding down, the Army has determined it can meet wounded troops' needs at home with fewer warrior transition units -- those set up especially for troops requiring at least six months of intensive care.
Brig. Gen. David Bishop, commander of the Warrior Transition Command, said Thursday the Army will shut down 14 Wounded Warrior transition units. He emphasized that the closure and reorganization of the units have nothing to do with the federal budget or the sequestration cuts.
"These changes will improve the care and transition of soldiers through increased standardization, increased cadre-to-soldier ratios, improved access to resources on installations, and reduced delays in care," he said.
With the changes, the Army will inactivate five of its active-duty transition units as well as all nine Community Based Warrior Transition Units, which had been specifically set up for recovering Army Reserve and National Guard soldiers.
The Army will replace the nine community units with 13 new centers established by Sept. 30 on active duty Army bases across the country, officials said. Troops using the community-based facilities slated for closure will be assigned to one of the new installation locations and will not have to move or change their care plans, officials said.
Veterans groups have no problem with the changes as long as they do not adversely affect care of the wounded troops.
"For us it's really important the continuity of care remain in place, regardless of how the physical locations of the units are changed," said Lauren Augustine, legislative associate for the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.
Joe Davis, spokesman for the Veterans of Foreign Wars, said he was glad "this action was based on diminishing need, not budget."
The new warrior transition care units will be stood up at Fort Carson, Colo.; Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.; Fort Hood and Bliss, Texas; Fort Riley, Kan.; Fort Knox, Ky.; Fort Benning, Fort Stewart and Fort Gordon, Ga.; Fort Bragg, N.C.; and Fort Belvoir, Va.
Belvoir and Knox will each have two community care units.
The nine community-based units to close are in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Puerto Rico, Utah and Virginia. The Puerto Rico unit will become a community care detachment under the mission command of the Fort Gordon Warrior Transition Battalion.
The active-duty units to be closed are at Fort Irwin, Calif.; Fort Huachuca, Ariz.; Fort Jackson, S.C.; Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.; and the United States Military Academy, West Point, N.Y.
The Army said each location had fewer than 38 soldiers assigned to it as of Dec. 20, 2013.