By Amanda Kim Stairrett

Fort Hood Herald

The public has always supported the Warrior Transition Brigade, its commander said last week.

The hundreds who fill those ranks got to see that support in action Dec. 15 as representatives from Operation Homefront, Beam Global Spirits and Wine Inc. and Bank of America handed out about 500 gift bags full of holiday food items to soldiers from the brigade, to include its support cadre.

The brigade is the Army's largest medical unit and was established to bring resources together so doctors and nurses can focus on medical care for soldiers while the brigade takes the lead on other needs, according to information from Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center. The brigade helps wounded, injured and ill soldiers recover so they can rejoin their units or transition into the civilian world.

Fort Hood's Warrior Transition Brigade has about 455 soldiers, commander Col. Bill Salter said at the giveaway. The brigade, which has two battalions and a headquarters, is at about half the size it was a year ago. Leaders have since refined the criteria for soldiers entering the unit so those who truly need assistance can get it, Salter said.

Soldiers who attended the event at the Resiliency Campus gym received enough non-perishable food items to serve a family of four.

They also received $25 gift certificates for the Warrior Way Commissary to purchase the perishable items, said Carly Samuelson, Operation Homefront director of development for special events.

An event like this shows the Warriors in Transition that "the public does still care about soldiers," Salter said.

Beam, through the sale of marked products that benefited Operation Homefront, and Bank of America led the way in raising more than $28,500 for the holiday giveaway at Fort Hood, Samuelson said.

Volunteers from the businesses and Operation Homefront gathered at the gym early Dec. 15 morning to assemble the gift bags.

The organization focuses its efforts on families of deployed troops and the wounded, and Samuelson said she hoped the event provided a bit of holiday cheer.

Beam typically participates in a project to provide people with holiday presents, but Ken Ruff, vice president of customer management-on premise, said officials wanted to do something special this holiday season.

It was a small idea that grew quickly and came together in a short amount of time, Ruff said. It meant a lot for him to participate in the event, and he said it was a small way of paying soldiers back for what they and their families do.

During this time of year, it can be difficult for people to always have enough, said Capt. James Russell, brigade chaplain.

He agreed that the giveaway was just another way for the community to say "thank you."

It's important the soldiers know people care, Russell said.

"You can pay someone to do a job and they do it," he said. "Thank someone and they'll do it again."

Contact Amanda Kim Stairrett at or (254) 501-7547.

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