ARLINGTON, Va. — Under the gun to staff its new medical units for wounded soldiers requiring long-term care, the Army is boosting bonuses and lowering leadership requirements for personnel.

Platoon sergeants and squad leaders assigned to the Army’s new warrior transition units will now receive $375 in monthly special duty pay, according to an Army personnel message released July 2.

Retroactive to June 5, the pay replaces the $225 authorized in January for both active and reserve-component enlisted soldiers.

Special Duty Assignment Pay is a monthly payment the services give to enlisted members performing jobs considered especially difficult, dangerous or those that involve a higher degree of responsibility.

Platoon sergeants and squad leaders earn the pay because they are the heart of our organization, Col. Terrence McKenrick, commander of the Army’s first WTU, said during the April 2007 opening of the unit, at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington.

The new message also eliminates the requirement for WTU platoon and squad leaders to have at least two years’ experience as a platoon sergeant or squad leader.

Although not required, it is preferable that soldiers have at least 12 months of such leadership experience, according to the message.

The Army replaced its medical holding companies with WTUs in the aftermath of a 2007 media scandal at Walter Reed, where wounded soldiers in outpatient status were found languishing without proper oversight.

In October 2007, the Army announced that 32 WTUs would stand up beginning in January 2008, with locations at all its major medical installations.

The number of wounded soldiers in need of long-term care continues to grow by about 900 soldiers per month, and has gone from 6,000 in June 2007 to 12,000 this year, Brig. Gen. Gary Cheek, director of the Army’s Warrior Care and Transition Office, said during a June 18 interview with Soldiers Radio and Television.

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