Col John R. Boulé II, commander of the Army Corps of Engineers’ New York District attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the completion and turnover of the second phase of the Warrior in Transition Unit Complex held at Fort Drum on May 14. The complex is capable of future expansion for wounded Soldiers, if the need arises. The four-year project estimated at $52 million, established a complex for the 3rd Battalion, 85th Mountain Infantry Regiment, better known as the Warrior in Transition Unit (WIT).
The complex consists of a 144-person barracks, a two company administration facility, Headquarters Company building and a Soldier and Family Assistance Center (SFAC). The 3-85th Mountain Infantry Warrior Transition Battalion (WTB) was so designated in honor of the 10th Mountain Division unit with which the former Sen. Robert Dole served when he was injured during World War II.
Boulé, called the facility “state of the art” and stated “this is one of approximately 192 projects totaling almost $3 billion completed at Fort Drum by USACE in the past 25 years.”
The ceremony featured several dignitaries, including Rep. William L. Owens, who stated that “this to me represents how we measure ourselves as Americans.”
In his prepared remarks, Maj. Gen. Mark A. Milley, the Fort Drum and 10th Mountain Division commander, appeared to address those issues, noting the need for battalion leaders to focus on helping their soldiers. “We’ve gone from a capability that was dispersed and not super well-coordinated ... to now it’s coordinated; it’s all on one campus.”
Col. Mark W. Thompson, the commander of the installation’s Army Medical Department Activity, “We as a medical community and a leadership community have to be attuned that there are 300 different individuals here, and each of them are going to have their own separate needs,” Thompson said. “Their families are going to have their own needs that we need to try to help them fulfill.”
The battalion helps prepare soldiers to return to their units or move out of the Army into civilian life. The unit has 98 soldiers, a number that includes 78 active duty, 13 reservists seven National Guard, to go with 54 civilian personnel.
The barracks provide three 2-person suites that are American Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant and all other barrack suites are ADA compatible (configured to be easily converted to ADA compatible).
The newly-completed SFAC provides space for counseling and assistance with education, finance, human resources, Military and Veteran benefits, social services and Army wounded Warrior Programs.
The Battalion Headquarters, not co-located in the battalion complex, provides administrative support and command and control of the WTB.