The injured service member remains part of a medical hold unit, (the CBWTU), and has a chain of command. Since the CBWTU may be in another state, accountability is kept by phone and by having the soldier report to a local armory or other government facility. Allen reports to the armory everyday that he does not have medical appointments. The normal duty day for this type of program is eight hours a day. However, due to Allen's condition, he is required to report for four hours each day, unless he is attending a medical appointment.
This program does have very strict requirements that must be met in order to remain in the program. If a wounded warrior is not complacent, they will be sent back to a main treatment center where they will have to live until they are finished. One of the requirements for Allen to come to this program was that I was available to him 24/7. Since he is not allowed to drive, I have to be available to drive him to all of his medical appointments. I also have to be with him in case of emergency situations. He often has migraines that require additional trips to the hospital. He also still has many flash backs and periods of disassociation. When these occur, it is essential that I, or someone else familiar with these episodes, are near so that he is not alone. While I know many of his triggers, there are still some things that happen totally unexpectedly that send him back to Iraq. Another requirement for him to remain in this program is that he attends weekly psych appointments. We do this at the Kansas City VA.
Our flight arrived in Little Rock on Sunday afternoon and we were met by one of the guys from the CBWTU. He took us back to our room, (which was not the greatest), and gave us brief instructions on where to report the next morning. Our room was in a cinder block building with someone's old bedroom furniture. It's not that it was bad, it just wasn't even remotely similar to a hotel or anything else I'm used to. It also wasn't the cleanest place in the world. There were actually left over french fries under the desk!!
The next morning we reported to the building right behind our room. For the next four days we would be reporting here each day in order to get in processed. Each day was filled with meetings, doctor appointments, and paperwork. It was fine, but there was information overload. Thankfully, much of this, I had heard before while at Walter Reed. We also met Allen's chain of command, which has since changed a couple of times! Everyone was very nice though and it was nice to be able to have a face for the people we would be dealing with on a daily basis for the next who knew how long. (Currently, it has been 13 months and still counting).
On Friday of this week, we flew home to Kansas. It was so nice to be home and to know we would be home for awhile without having to leave again. We finally felt like we would be able to get into some type of a routine which I had greatly missed. Having a routine is critical for me. So, I couldn't wait to get back into a normal one. Our kids were more than thrilled to have us home, although they too had to get used to living with Mom and Dad instead of Grandma and Grandpa, and Aunt Chris. Of course, we don't quite have the same rules as grandparents and aunts!!
Currently, Allen is still a part of this same unit. We had serious reservations about going into this program at first. While at Walter Reed, I was paid a per diem for being his caregiver. However, this special pay is not available for CBWTUs. Since I am required to be available to him constantly, this is one of the unfair parts of leaving the major treatment facility. However, we really needed to get home to our kids and our own support system. We were also concerned about the medical care he would be giving up by leaving such a world renowned facility like Walter Reed. But, we decided that we really needed to try it for the sake of our kids. We are extremely happy that we did. In many cases, we have received better care than we did while being treated at WRAMC. I have decided that is because WRAMC receives the worst of the worst. So, many times, the other wounded warriors get pushed down between the cracks. There is also a lot of discrimination against the guys with the invisible wounds, whether they are physical or mental. So, for us, coming home to the CBWTU was a wonderful choice. Overall we have been pleased with his care although there have been some things that haven't been addressed like we would like. But, that is just life. No system is perfect and you have to learn to get the most out of each opportunity instead of becoming bitter and negative.
My advice to anyone fighting the system taking care of a wounded warrior, don't give up. Keep fighting the fight, taking care of your warrior to the best of your ability. And whatever you do, don't let the negatives out weigh the positives. After all, you are the lucky one, you still have your soldier to fight for. May God bless you all and keep you healthy and let you see the positives.