Friday, November 06, 2009

Army Lt. Col. Juanita Warman

Remember Our Heroes

'This is not the way she was going to go'
Sunday, November 08, 2009
By Michael A. Fuoco and Kaitlynn Riely, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

When Philip Warman learned of the shooting rampage Thursday at Fort Hood, Texas, his thoughts -- and fears -- naturally turned to his wife, Lt. Col. Juanita Warman.

Lt. Col. Warman, 55, had been at Fort Hood for only 24 hours to be processed for duty in Iraq, a deployment for which she had volunteered.

Mr. Warman, a lawyer who lives in Havre de Grace, Md., was particularly worried because the attack, in which 13 people were killed and 30 wounded, occurred in Fort Hood's Soldier Readiness Processing Center, where medical and dental care is provided to those about to deploy overseas.

"Naturally, I was trying to track her down," Mr. Warman said in a telephone interview yesterday from his home, where family and friends had gathered to grieve and support each other. "I kept thinking, 'She can't be in the processing center.' She had just gotten there, she had more training to undergo. She was not due to leave until the end of November. The base hot line didn't have her on the initial list of casualties.

"I thought, 'Good, she's probably OK. She just can't get through to me.' "

A half-hour later, his doorbell rang.

"There were two [soldiers] in Class A uniforms. I knew what that was all about."

Indeed, Lt. Col. Warman was among those killed.

"I knew she was going in harm's way in Iraq. [But at Fort Hood], this is not the way she was going to go," he said, choking up.

His wife's military career spanned 25 years in active duty and Army reserves.

A certified psychiatric nurse practitioner originally from Pittsburgh and whose relatives still live in area, she had undergone training in California in preparation for her mission and was due for more training at Fort Hood.

Mr. Warman and his wife were both graduates of the University of Pittsburgh, where she earned a master's degree in nursing.

The couple, who married in the late 1990s, had moved to Maryland in 2005 where Lt. Col. Warman accepted a job at a Veterans Administration facility in Perryville, Md. Prior to the move, the couple lived in Pittsburgh and she had a civilian practice at UPMC. She was an expert in post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.

"She was excellent at her practice," he said.

Lt. Col. Warman served a year overseas at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, the Army facility where those injured in Afghanistan and Iraq are treated before being sent stateside for further medical care. She regularly volunteered for round-trip flights to Iraq to care for soldiers being sent to Landstuhl, her husband said.

She received an Army Commendation Medal in 2006 for meritorious service at Landstuhl.

"She was indeed an extraordinary woman," said Mr. Warman. "I can't remember when we weren't together. We met at a social event at the University Club in 1986. We've been together since. She was my best friend. She was an excellent soldier."

Lt. Col. Warman's stepson, Philip, 38, said the family was "deeply saddened. We're going through the grieving process.

"She was a good soldier. She loved her family, her job, her colleagues and her friends and she will be deeply missed."

In Crafton last night, family and friends gathered to mourn. Eva Waddle, Lt. Col. Warman's mother, said her daughter couldn't wait to deploy. Other family members agreed.

"She was looking forward to help her country by helping the soldiers who needed her professional help," her sister, Tammy J. Harper of Pittsburgh, said. "She didn't want them to wait to get home to get help."

After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Lt. Col. Warman's commitment to the armed services grew, her relatives said.

"She really donated her life to serving her country," her daughter, Melissa Papst-Czemerda, 29, of Peters, said. "She loved helping people and making a difference. She was a heroine and gave her life serving her country."

On Oct. 29, Lt. Col. Warman made her final Facebook posting. Ms. Harper said the family had been reading and re-reading the note since her death. The note mentions how her sister was missing her daughters and grandchildren, and kept track of their lives through the photographs they posted.

"I am so excited to be leaving the country again soon," Lt. Col. Warman said in her posting. "Just now got a few minutes. So much to do, so many lives to touch. Just wish it didn't take me away from home so much."

Lt. Col. Warman is survived by her husband, two daughters, three stepchildren and eight grandchildren, her mother and six siblings. The family expects Lt. Col. Warman to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

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