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NEWS | Jan. 3, 2023

“Push yourself to take leaps of faith and try something you’ve never done before.”

By Kenny Rodgers Army

Retired Army Captain Kenny Rodgers loved law enforcement and being in the Army. As a police officer, he was used to an active and high octane physically fit lifestyle. When he was activated from Army Reserve to Active Duty, his physical demands entered a new stratosphere.

“I was an active-duty Drill Sergeant and then became a Combatives Instructor. I was always athletic and was very hard on my body. I trained up Soldiers for Deployment,” said the Kentucky native. He trained local police on his last deployment to Afghanistan in 2014. The stress on his body would continue, particularly his knees.

He returned to Fort Bliss in 2015 and his physical challenges would manifest. “I was on a division run at Fort Bliss and my left knee blew out and I went down…this was halfway through the run. I finished the last two miles, and it was swollen, and I realized it was the beginning of the end. The doc who looked at it didn’t know how I was walking let alone running.”

He saw his 22 years in the Army fading away. “I wanted to stay and at least make Lt. Col. and I really thought things were going to be ok.” But they weren’t. “I also had some demons I was hiding from Afghanistan, things I had been harboring as a police officer, things I should have received counseling on but being a Drill Sergeant and a Combatives Instructor for 15 years it was old school mentality to me of thinking, “suck it up, this will pass.”

It didn’t. But he found the Army’s Warrior Care and Transition, now the Army Recovery Care Program to help get him on the road to recovery. However, it wasn’t smooth sailing.

“I was at the Fort Bliss Warrior Transition Battalion (WTB) and then I transferred back home to do home care at Fort Campbell. That’s where I really got exposed to the whole adaptive reconditioning process. I got into fly fishing, archery and more. I also found adaptive sports and it was amazing.”

However, as his left knee was healing, the right knee started deteriorating. He thought, here we go again, and now it’s both knees.
“I was at my worst all time low in my life and adaptive sports and being with that Team Army family was a Godsend. What it did for me physically, mentally, and spiritually was amazing.”

He says he needed help both physically and mentally. He found strength through adaptive reconditioning and eventually became comfortable asking for help which he encourages any Soldier to do.

“For me it was what I needed at that time in my life. I was stripped away of my identity of who I am as a man. I lost my military career, I knew I couldn’t go back to work as a police officer, my marriage ended, so thank God for friends and people who stepped up to help me,” said the father of three. During his time on Team Army, he competed at the 2018 Warrior Games in archery, discus, shotput, cycling and shooting. He looks back fondly on his competition days and admits there were still hard times ahead. He faced his new normal, and he conquered.

“I got healthy, quit drinking, and got my spiritual life in order and came back to Kentucky. I work on my cars; I’ve met new people including a new girlfriend. I have the smile now that people remember on me from years before.”

Years later he’s using his law enforcement background even still for the greater good.
“I’m working for a transport company driving high-end clients that come from out of the country making sure they are safe and secure,” said Rodgers.

Last August, he was supporting Team Army at the 2022 Department of Defense Warrior Games in Orlando and said it was like old home week. “I was asked if I would come help set up and mentor, so I got to spend time with the coaches and athletes it was an honor to be there in Orlando,” adding that the memories of 2018 were flooding back with pride.

Who could forget those memories with his service dog Jedi who is now six years old. “He’s such a sweet and loving dog and still takes great care of me. I retired him as a service dog last year but he’s still my buddy and we still go everywhere together. He helped me recover more quickly.”

The journey, the games, the recovery, and the people along the way will always be etched in Rodgers’ mind as he knows he couldn’t have improved without help from the Army Recovery Care Program.

“I think the program is phenomenal and I pray it doesn’t go away because I know what it did for me and how it got me plugged in to other individuals like myself having issues. The teamwork does make the dream work. My best advice for Soldiers today is to stay away from negative people, focus on keeping your head straight, and push yourself to take leaps of faith and try something you’ve never done before.”