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New CSM brings experience to WTU
Soldier has served 20 years in National Guard
Kanicki and Bekaert
Commander of Fort Stewart’s Warrior Transition Unit, Lt. Col. James Kanicki, and the unit’s in-coming commander, Sgt. Maj. Michael Bekaert, salute during the ceremony. - photo by Photo by Frenchi Jones
After more than a month of being without a command sergeant major, soldiers at Fort Stewart’s Warrior Transition Battalion recently welcomed a new leader to its chain of command.
On Wednesday, Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Bekaert assumed responsibility as the battalion’s commanding non-commissioned officer.
 First Sgt. Glenn Swanson, who served as the interim CSM while the battalion courted a new one, exchanged responsibility for the troops with Bekaert in front of three companies of soldiers currently assigned to the WTB.
“We are getting a great NCO to help lead this battalion in the direction it’s headed,” Lt. Col. James Kanicki, commander of the WTU, told the warriors. “Command Sgt. Maj. Bekaert brings with him a wealth of knowledge and experience. He’s a combat veteran … and above all else, he is a leader that understands soldiers and understands taking care of soldiers.”
Bekaert has served 29 years in the Army National Guard. His most recent position was as the sixth state command sergeant major of the South Dakota Army National Guard.
Bekaert said he was set to retire from the guard last month, but opted to continue serving after he was offered the job at Fort Stewart.
“This is better,” he said. “I can wear the uniform, be with soldiers.”
The incoming CSM said that over the next few weeks he’ll get to know the unit’s cadres and learn the protocols
for case managers and doctors.
Kanicki did not say why the WTB had been devoid of a commanding NCO for more than 30 days, he only said former CSM Randy Cowen had served his time and did not wish to extend his service.
“He had done his year and he’ll REFRAD (Release from Active Duty) back to the Georgia National Guard,” Kanicki said.   
Currently there are 285 soldiers assigned to Fort Stewart’s WTB, which was established in summer 2007.
According to  3rd ID officials, the WTB can provide services to nearly 600 wounded soldiers in need of medical and behavioral health services, in hopes of smoothly transitioning them back to their units or out of the Army.
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