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NEWS | April 2, 2023

Treating The Whole Soldier

By MaryTherese Griffin Army

Staff Sgt Robert Ellison is a career Soldier having spent 30 years in the Army. He’s seen a lot of change over the years, and he says it’s change for the better especially when it comes to caring for Soldiers. The Army Recovery Care Program (ARCP) to him is a God Send.

“I tell the guys especially the young ones every day, you guys are very lucky to have this, and you should take full advantage of everything they offer you here at the Soldier Recovery Unit (SRU). Thirty years ago, this wasn’t around, and we had to tough through it. We had to Soldier up but now through ARCP they help us to Soldier On,” says the wheel vehicle mechanic.

Ellison found out first- hand how the ARCP helps Soldiers Recover and overcome. “I was in Poland in 2018 and fell off of a train car when we were unloading equipment and injured my back, shoulder and neck,” said Ellison. He received therapy and continued. At a later deployment to Kuwait, he aggravated the injuries and was then sent to the Fort Campbell SRU in Kentucky.

“I had a preconceived idea that I would be at the SRU for just one thing and when I got there, I found out they treat the whole Soldier. It’s definitely a holistic approach. They treat all injuries and include mental and spiritual health.”

As he is approaching retirement, SSG Ellison didn’t want to think of what he wouldn’t be able to do because of his injuries and even a few lingering issues he’d been carrying his whole career. He is thankful for the treatment available today to help him Soldier on in life.”

“When I started my military career 30 years ago the treatment back then wasn’t what it is today. A lot of scars I had from way back when I started had piled up mentally and I’m getting help for that in the Army Recovery Care Program today.”

A big part of that holistic treatment comes from Adaptive Sports, which Ellison says was a real game changer for him. “When I first arrived at Fort Campbell SRU I couldn’t run and was pretty much limited as to what I could do. The staff and cadre showed me that with the therapy I am doing, there are also activities to help the process. I always thought cycling would never work because its all upright but that’s not true. “

He didn’t know much about recumbent cycling, but he was trained by the Adaptive Reconditioning experts at Fort Campbell on how to use one properly to build his strength back.

“So many don’t understand what Adaptive Sports can do. I’ve seen Soldiers come into the SRU depressed because of their setback and they think they shouldn’t play a sport and ask how this will help me, but I always tell them they can adapt any sport to meet your needs and it will help you in more than just physical recovery.”

He’s transferred his knowledge from the SRU to his home too. “I’ve got two sons, my 22-year-old handicapped son benefits from what I’ve learned in the SRU, it really helps him. And wouldn’t you know, my 11-year-old son also receives benefit because he sees how it helps his dad and brother and he’s learning quite a bit about having empathy and regaining what you lost,” says the married proud father of two.

Ellison is at the Army Adaptive Sports Camp at Fort Bragg this week. He, like 71 other wounded, ill or injured Soldiers are hoping to make Team Army to continue at the Warrior Games Challenge in Coronado California in June. Besides the glory of sporting Team Army across their chest in elite competition, Ellison says the bonds that form are real and life changing.

“We’ve grown tight. We have strong bonds and I know it’s tough being away from family, but any Soldier here quickly learns you have another family, and we are all there around you.”