Community Service

Comforts Of Home

CU staff ensure injured and ill servicemembers recover in a homelike setting.

March 30, 2009
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For wounded soldiers no longer hospitalized but still needing extensive treatment before returning to their units or going home, the Army has created Warrior Transition Units (WTU).

Andrews Federal Credit Union, Suitland, Md., is providing décor as well as toiletries, linens, cookware, dishes, and other supplies for WTU rooms at the U.S. Army Garrison Benelux in Chievres, Belgium, and the U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden, Germany.

The credit union serves U.S. military installations in Belgium, Germany, and The Netherlands, and 22 staff members help with the WTUs.

“Our soldiers risk their lives every day for us to live safely,” says Al Johnson, Andrews Federal’s vice president of European operations. “When they’re hurt in the line of duty, they should be able to recover in comfort. We are honored to play a part in helping these soldiers transition back to their units or to civilian life.”

In Chievres, the credit union sponsors the entire WTU—two double-room suites that house four soldiers with shared kitchen, laundry room, and bathroom.

In Wiesbaden, the credit union sponsors a double room with a shared bathroom at one WTU, and a suite with sleeping area, bathroom, kitchenette, and living room for one occupant at the other WTU.

As new servicemembers arrive—sometimes with little or no clothing or personal items—the credit union staff provide gift cards for clothing and food, and welcome baskets with toiletries, snacks, and thank-you cards.

In June 2008, the credit union hosted a barbecue for Wiesbaden WTU servicemembers, cadre, and their families.

During the holidays, credit union staff provide homemade cookies and goodie bags for servicemembers and their families, personalized holiday greeting cards, and care packages. It also donated a Nintendo® Wii gaming console for the Wiesbaden WTU day room to help soldiers do more physical activity while healing.

Soldiers assigned to a WTU each have the support of a squad leader, nurse, case manager, and primary care manager, according to U.S. Army Garrison Benelux Public Affairs. Typically they require six months or more of complex treatment, although there’s no time limit on their stay.

In February 2007, the Army created the WTU program, and the first WTU opened at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, D.C., in April 2007. The WTUs served by Andrews Federal opened their doors in 2008—Wiesbaden in January and Benelux in October.

The Army plans to establish 32 such units and has allocated $1.2 billion for WTU facilities and projects, reports the Army News Service.

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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory (www.appreciationatwork.com/assess) will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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