JBSA-Fort Sam Houston –
Caring for Sailors and their families was the focus of those who gathered at the Navy Operational Support Center-San Antonio to celebrate the official opening of the Wounded, Ill and Injured Annex with a ribbon-cutting ceremony June 25.
The annex supports Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard service members with traumatic injury and illness during their treatment and recovery at the San Antonio Military Medical Center on Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston.
"We owe it to our shipmates and all wounded warriors, who have sacrificed so much and who have given their all for us, to provide them the best possible care and help them put their lives back together," said Rear Adm. William Roberts, Medical Education and Training Campus commandant.
The admiral pointed out that less than one percent of Americans are serving in the military today.
"As we consider the impact those individuals have had on the world defending freedom and protecting democracy, I am reminded of the words of Winston Churchill: 'Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few,'" Roberts said.
Originally just a small detachment from the Naval Health Clinic Corpus Christi, the group managed service-specific paperwork and other requirements for sea service patients from a lower-level office area shared with the Warrior Transition Battalion at SAMMC.
"As the need became larger, we had to grow and as we grew, the Navy Wounded, Ill and Injured Annex was created," said Anthony Reyes, a retired hospital corpsman who was part of the small detachment while on active duty. He said at that time only he and one other person comprised the staff.
Reyes is an administrative specialist with an annex staff that also includes a case manager, a case manager assistant, a social worker and a uniformed military member.
Annex staff members establish lines of communication among patients, family members and the patients' commands; track service members during transfer to and from SAMMC and provide supervision and coordination as they progress through treatment.
"It made such a difference. Now it's a one-stop shop," said Cryptologic Technician (Interpretive) 1st Class John Sobery, who entered treatment several months ago.
Sobery explained that prior to the annex, sea-service patients would shuffle between floors and offices at the hospital, which could be difficult.
Now he has a case manager who schedules all of his appointments and ensures he keeps them.
"She's my drill sergeant," he joked.
Sobery's wife, Angela, and daughters Sabrina and Clara attended the ceremony with him.
"It's a very family-oriented system," Sobery said. "They encourage my family to be part of my recovery. My wife comes to all the meetings and my children are encouraged to attend. That's why they are here today."
There is a comfort zone among Navy and other military families who share similar cultures and languages that the Annex provides, Angela Sobery said.
"It's something that we are a part of instead of being detached from a command. This is healing for all of us," she said.
"It's comforting to have him home because I was scared when he was gone," said 10-year-old Clara Sobery.
"It is such a great relief to be with my dad," 16-year-old Sabrina Sobery added.
Annex staff also arranged to have Sobery's family coordinate assistance through the Warrior and Family Support Center.
The WFSC gives injured and ill service members and their families a chance to take a break in a welcoming environment, watch a movie, play video games, check email, use the Internet and just relax.
"We have a bunch of adopted grandmas over there and we love them to death," Angela said.