NEWS | May 5, 2022

Amputee Soldier Credits Fort Campbell SRU With His Return to Duty Status

By MaryTherese Griffin Army

Nothing in this world prepares a parent for that bad news phone call.

Victoria Franklin received that call Oct. 11, 2020, about her then-19-year-old son Spc. Tyler Loveridge stationed at Fort Campbell in Kentucky. He had been in a motorcycle accident on his way back to the barracks.

“It’s been over a year, and it still feels like yesterday,” she says with an emotional voice from her home in Tennessee. After that day, Franklin and her daughter moved from California to be closer to her son.

Just 20 minutes before the accident, Loveridge had spoken with his mom on a phone call. While riding on wet roads, he lost control and crashed into a guard rail. He broke his back, suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and his leg was damaged to the point of needing amputation. He was flown to Vanderbilt Hospital in critical condition where he spent two weeks and underwent surgery to amputate his right foot below the knee.

After a three-week stay at the hospital for his TBI, he was now assigned to the Fort Campbell Kentucky Soldier Recovery Unit (SRU).

“It was a blessing that I was stationed at a base where one of the top Soldier Recovery Units just happened to be,” Loveridge said. “I got lucky with all my medical, and this place got me to be back on my team.”

His mother was thankful the SRU was there for her son, who she says wanted to be a Soldier since he was a little boy. She is grateful that he was never alone during the 14 months he had to learn his new normal.

“Just knowing he was there was comforting,” she said. “He was never left alone. His unit rotated visiting him.”

Loveridge, who is a member of Bravo Battery 232 Field Artillery unit, credits his brothers and sisters in arms and the SRU with getting him through the scariest part of his life.

“My chain of command really wanted me back,” he said. “They supported me, visiting me daily. After 14 months at the Fort Campbell Soldier Recovery Unit, I am return to duty [status]. And just so you know, I am fully deployable.”

He was amazed at all the opportunities to recover and overcome afforded to him at the Fort Campbell SRU, and he says he knows how blessed he is to have this benefit.

“Overall, the time to be able to recover, that was the best part,” he said. “You still get paid and have all the benefits. They just want you to get stronger and better.”

He might have lost a leg, but his mom says he never lost his sense of humor. Always the lighthearted guy, Tyler puts his humor into perspective.

“I get up in the morning, I put on my leg, and I go to work,” he said. “But hey If someone needs a leg up…I’m there! Basically, I try to get rid of the elephant in the room. I’m a goofy guy so I joke and call my prosthetic my lucky fin like in Finding Nemo.”

The process of individualized programs at the SRU helped Tyler and his mom see the light at the end of the tunnel.

“I was given updates from his nurse case managers more than you can imagine. This is an amazing program,” says Franklin.

Loveridge happily shares his experience with other Soldiers. While he hopes they never need the SRU’s help, he has some advice if they do: “Use the program to its full capacity. There are tons of programs in it designed just for you.”