The Warrior Transition Brigade (WTB) National Capital Region (NCR) held a change of command ceremony recognizing Col. Michelle M. Fraley’s accomplishments and wished her Godspeed, while welcoming Col. Dana S. Tankins as the new commander of the WTB.
The WTB was activated April 25, 2007 to provide command and control primary care and case management for Soldiers in transition. It establishes the conditions for their care and healing, and promotes their timely return to the force or transition to civilian life. The WTB was the first of the Army’s new warrior transition units, spearheading transformation in warrior care throughout the Army.
The ceremony began with overwhelming words of praise for Fraley’s many accomplishments as commander of the WTB by Northern Regional Medical Command, Commanding General, Maj. Gen. M. Ted Wong.
“A mission as tough as this requires a leader who is equally as tough and that would be Col. Fraley,” said Wong. “Her experience as a commander at all levels and as a staff officer in key assignments in joint, Department of the Army and Department of Defense levels, have really prepared her well to take on the challenges she faced as a commander of the Army’s highest profile Warrior Transition Unit and she did a phenomenal job.
“During her tenure, Michelle implemented procedures and enforced regulatory compliance that ensured the safety and welfare of wounded warriors and their families, while improving the efficiency and resiliency of the staff to help advance the care of wounded warriors,” added Wong. “She was affectionately known as ‘Wonder Woman’ for her ability to solve huge problems.”
Fraley was not the only one due for acknowledgment, as Wong recognized the forward momentum in health care standards that Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and Naval Support Activity Bethesda continue to strive for daily.
“It’s fitting that we conduct this change of command on this campus, a campus that has a long and distinguished history of healing warriors, a campus that is now a strategic site where much of the future of military medicine is being developed, defined and demonstrated,” he added. “It’s a campus where Soldiers and their families who have made great sacrifices are healed. Everyday, Soldiers in the WTB NCR are reaching levels of recovery unimaginable in past conflicts.”
As Fraley took the podium to deliver her last address to her former command, she made sure to leave with them words from a great leader who inspired her during her career.
“Gen. Colin Powell reminds us, ‘the day your Soldiers stop bringing you their problems, is the day you stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership,’” said Fraley. “I want to give my personal thanks to Lt. Gen. Horoho, Lt. Gen. Linnington, Maj. Gen. Wong, Maj. Gen. Buchanan, Gen. Bishop and Gen. Kutz for their leadership and coaching to allow us to address our wounded, ill and injured Soldiers and caregivers’ concerns, despite the fact that sometimes the problems took the scenic route through the White House, the Pentagon or members of Congress and even Fox News.”
The outgoing commander suggested that the mission of helping wounded, ill and injured Soldiers could not have been completed without the help of a strong and supportive team.
“It was a privilege to have been selected to command for a sixth time in our military career. My husband Tom and I were honored to have this opportunity again,” said Fraley. “After 27 years of marriage we have had the good fortune to grow as a couple while helping others. We came into command knowing that we share this responsibility with an exceptional staff of health care providers, chaplains, social workers, counselors and mission command cadre members, who touch the everyday lives of our wounded, ill and injured Soldiers and family members. Our nation’s [ability] to take care of our wounded, ill and injured Soldiers is a team effort.”
Tankins, the incoming commander for WTB, assured his new team that he was well aware of the challenges his new position would present, but put them at ease as he insisted he was up for the task.
“Over the years I have heard that old age question, ‘what comes first, the Soldiers or the mission?’ Well in this position it all comes together,” said Tankins. “The sole mission is taking care of our Soldiers ... to heal, educate and transition, wounded, ill and injured Soldiers back to the force or prepare them to serve as productive veterans.
“I cannot think of a more important mission in the Army,” he added. “I will do everything in my capacity and leverage every resource available to accomplish it. And along with my wife Joy, we will put the same effort into supporting their families.”
Tankins thanked the Soldiers in transition at the WTB for their service and sacrifice and ensured that he would do the same for them - serve and sacrifice.
“I promise to provide you with the best service and support possible and will not rest until that standard is met,” said Tankins. “The strength of our nation is our Army, the strength of our Army is our Soldiers and the Strength of our Soldiers is our families. This is what makes our force Army strong. Heal, educate and transition.”