By Staff Sgt. Nicholas Lutton
US Army South Public Affairs Office
FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas—While rehabilitating from injuries in Iraq, military police qualified Wounded Warriors are forging strong bonds in the provost marshall's office at US Army South.
"When visiting wounded MP's at BAMC (Brooke Army Medical Center), some of them had expressed a desire to continue working as an MP while they were going through their recovery. I talked to the 1st Sgt. at the Medical Hold Company, and he told me they already had a program in place where Soldiers could work for units provided it didn't interfere with their recovery," said Sgt. Maj. Lonnie Crook, Sgt. Maj. for the provost marshall's office at US Army South.
Sgt. John Botts, an MP working for US Army South, was a team leader on a routine presence patrol in Sadr City, Iraq, when his vehicle was hit which resulted in the loss of his leg.
"There are a lot of guys that have come through that are just really positive. It's all about their outlook. I'm just really grateful that these guys have taken me in," said Botts.
Botts was not the first Wounded Warrior to work for a unit or even US Army South, but he brought in another Soldier to help give him the benefit he was getting.
"Sgt. Botts had already been working up here and he asked if I'd like to get a job instead of just going to physical therapy everyday and kind of being bored so I got in contact with Sgt. Maj. Crook and he got me a job here," said Spc. Nicholas Rempp, an MP working for US Army South.
Rempp was on a route clearance in Baghdad, Iraq, when his vehicle hit an improvised explosive device and he was injured resulting in the loss of his leg.
Although rehabilitation is an important part of the recovery process, these Soldiers believe they need more than what is just in the hospital.
"It's helped out a lot. I've gotten to the point where I was able to walk and now I am running. Just going to physical therapy everyday gets real monotonous. So being able to actually come into work helps out with not being so bored and doing the same thing everyday. It's just nice to be able to feel like you're still needed to do work," said Rempp.
Captain Scott Leifker an officer working in DCS PM's office said that his faith and his family have gotten him through.
"I'm Roman Catholic so I place a lot into the faith aspect as well as family. They always say you can tell your real friends when something like this happens because there the ones who are jumping through hoops, but I tell you the people who jump through more hoops are your family. Just the emotional strains they go through, they find out you've been injured, they have to wait almost three days before they could see you and actually know physically your situation. Family; you can't put anything on top of that," said Leifker.
Sgt. 1st Class Bobby Ehrig an MP who was with Leifker in Iraq and is also a wounded warrior working at US Army South said the MP corps is a close group and that MP's stay close and take care of each other no matter where they are at.
Both Soldiers had worked with Master Sgt. Wardell Turner in the 501st MP Company out of Germany. He happened to be stationed in the DCS Pm here at US Army South when they were at BAMC.
"Capt. Leifker was my platoon leader. We've been together since 2003. We went to the first war together and on the second rotation we ended up being platoon leader and platoon sergeant together. Master Sgt. Turner and I were platoon sergeants in the same unit together in Germany in the 1st Armored Division. Between one of our mutual friends I found out he was coming here and he actually ended up getting a house across the street from me," said Ehrig.
Both Ehrig and Leifker sustained burns from a truck carrying propane that exploded at their entry control point.
Ehrig was the first to approach Crook and Turner about working in US Army South, and has recently made the list for promotion to master sergeant. He said he plans to retire in four years, because he would rather work than just receive his full disability benefits.
Although he is positive he will still be a full-time Soldier, Leifker is still going through the medical evaluation board. Rempp and Botts are both getting the opportunity to become military canine handlers.
"These Soldiers have an amazing attitude on life and on the Army. These Soldiers could give up. But they haven't. They could go through their recovery and nothing else. But these Soldiers aren't quitters. They want to be part of the team. No matter how bad your day is going, when you see them around, contributing to the mission, you can't help but feel better inside when you see their positive attitude," said Crook.