Wounded Soldier Now In Mentoring Role
(April 1, 2011)
|FORT HOOD, Texas (3/29/2011) - When Sgt. 1st Class Brent Boodoo's brain was scrambled one too many times by an improvised explosive device, along with a kicker of an injury to his left arm and neck, the food service specialist turned IED hunter landed in the Fort Hood Warrior Transition Brigade.|
Every afternoon, Sgt. 1st Class Brent Boodoo meets with his platoon squad leaders and WTs to resolve unfinished business and answer questions. Photo by Gloria Montgomery, Jan. 4, 2011
| ||With a stellar career past the 15-year mark, Boodoo was determined not to let his injuries end his dream of being a career soldier. That was back in 2007 and today, after a three-year recovery and healing stint with the WTB, he is sharing his personal experiences and knowledge of the “process” with incoming Warriors in Transition as a platoon sergeant with the WTB Headquarters, Headquarters Company.|
It's something, Boodoo, said, he wanted to do as a way of giving back to those who helped him through his personal pains and challenges.
"So many people and programs helped me," the 37-year old married father of three said. "I wanted to mentor future WTs and show them that there is life after an injury, and that there are programs available to help them."
|It's that experience and knowledge of the process that is making his services invaluable to the HHC said 1st Battalion Command Sgt. Maj. Renee Myers who was instrumental in hiring Boodoo as a member of the WTB cadre, a group of senior non-commissioned officers who are handpicked to serve as platoon and squad leaders. |
|"I think I made a great decision when I pushed for Boodoo because he is probably one of the most outstanding platoon leaders in the unit," said Myers. "I was very impressed with his leadership skills even when he was a Warrior in Transition, especially because he never took on the role of being a patient. It was always about what he could do to make himself better."|
Boodoo's HHC first sergeant agrees.
"Sgt. 1st Class Boodoo has been there and has experienced the same pain and has had some of the same issues our WTs have such as PTSD and TBI," 1st. Sgt. Steven Byrd said. "He knows firsthand what they have to go through and the mentality they need to have to get through the process."
As HHC cadre, Boodoo helps process WTs during the 30-day intake process, as well as oversees the medical evacuation operations. Though the grunt of "taking care of the soldiers" is branched out to his squad leaders, Boodoo briefs the new WTs on available resources during the weekly newcomers' briefings and serves as the lifeline of communication between the command and the Soldiers and their squad leaders.
While Byrd praises Boodoo's leadership qualities, it's his initiative and integrity that fuels his admiration for the senior NCO.
"His initiative is phenomenal, and his integrity is beyond reproach," Byrd said. "If he calls a high-risk soldier and there's no answer, Boodoo is on his way over there to find out why. And if a soldier has an issue or if there's a family situation that needs resolving, he's on the phone making appointments, finding out the resources, getting fuel vouchers, etc.. He's an exceptional asset to HHC and to our incoming WTs."
Boodoo, who joined the Army in 1992 shortly after high school graduation, turned down a college soccer scholarship for the opportunity to become a soldier. It was something he said he had always wanted to do, plus it would get him away from one of the most crime-ridden boroughs of New York City: Brooklyn.
"It was a rough city," Boodoo said on growing up in Brooklyn, where gangs, drugs, and violence populated his neighborhood.
Raised by his mom, aunts and grandparents, Boodoo said when he told his family he had enlisted in the Army, no one believed him until he left for boot camp. Mad at first, he said his family now agrees that making the Army a career has probably been the best thing for him.
A recipient of a Purple Heart, a Bronze Star, four Army Commendation Medals, seven Army Achievement Medals and a slew of campaign medals, including humanitarian missions to Guatemala and Bosnia, Boodoo was on his second deployment to Iraq when he was injured. Assigned to an EOD unit with 2/5 CAV, Boodoo and his platoon spent their days digging up the enemy's buried treasures.
Thinking he was on a suicide mission at first, Boodoo said the more he got involved in IED hunting the more fun he had, plus it was far different from his previous environment: Army kitchens. Although his designated Army occupation was chef and baker, Boodoo volunteered for the EOD team to broaden his Army career. While a good many of the IEDs did explode, Boodoo said the platoon's success rate in finding and disarming them numbered in the hundreds.
In August 2007, while trying to disarm an IED, his unit was ambushed and got into a firefight. Along with Boodoo, who says the blast rattled his brain "one too many times," several members of Boodoo's platoon also were injured.
Boodoo said the explosion haunted him for the longest time, because he felt so guilty about leaving the rest of his platoon on the battlefield.
"I battled with my doctors in Germany about that and wanted to go back," he said. "I'm here, and they're still in the fight. It's a horrible feeling."
He also found himself continually second guessing his decision making on that day, asking himself over and over what he could have done differently. It wasn't until he enrolled in Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center's Warrior Combat Stress Reset Program that he came to terms with his guilt and began tackling the source of his depression.
"Reset is the best program out there," he said, "because you're finding out other soldiers are going through exactly what you're going through. It has helped me tremendously get over my anger issues and to adapt with coming back on active duty."
During his time at the WTB, Boodoo enrolled in Central Texas College classes, earning 36 hours toward an associate's degree in food service management that he hopes to complete by fall of 2011. Although Boodoo had always planned on going to college, he said it was nearly impossible taking classes when he was in a line unit.
"One of the great things about being in the WTB is you're encouraged to take college courses," he said, adding that there's a tremendous amount of resources available to the WT who wants to transition back into the Army or into the civilian community.
Educating other WTs on those resources is another reason why he wanted to stay in the WTB as cadre.
"Unlike the soldiers returning from the Vietnam War, soldiers today have a wealth of resources and information available to them – the job fairs, the internships, time to take college classes, the counseling," Boodoo said. "There are so many benefits to being a Warrior in Transition, and soldiers can't ask for anything better. I'm very grateful for that and that I now have an opportunity to share what I know and my experiences with my soldiers."
|By Gloria Montgomery|
Fort Hood Warrior Transition Brigade
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