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NEWS | July 7, 2023

You can’t be scared of the future because it’s going to come with or without you

By MaryTherese Griffin Army

 Army Staff Sgt. Derrick Thompson works in communications in a variety of ways and is happy to sum it up. “I’m a radio guy. I make things talk to other things,” he says. The married father of three travelled the world and moved his family around in typical military fashion, working hard toward 20 years of service. That is until a little over a year ago, while in Korea, something strange started happening to his body.

“I had just come back from a mission. I was out eating a meal with some of the Koreans and there were a lot of starches, so when I came home, I didn’t feel like myself. About the time my vision was getting blurry, and I had a terrible headache I went to the ER. I learned my A1C was 14. A normal level is around six. They told me I could have passed out, gone into a coma, or even died. I thought ok I’m alive, but the fun is over.”
Thompson was diagnosed with diabetes in mid-May of last year. “It sort of just came up out of nowhere. I know my family had a history of it – but never thought me…not at this age.”

He arrived at the Joint Base San Antonio Soldier Recovery Unit (SRU) in October 2022. “When I first got diagnosed it was life altering. I was really depressed. I showed up there and all I could think of was all the things I couldn’t do. I wanted to retire after 20 and I wanted to backpack Europe and do other things with my family and those dreams seemed to be fading,” said the always athletic Soldier who says being competitive is in his nature.

“I got involved in adaptive sports and that was a game changer for me. I can go out and feed that craving to compete and they taught me how to take better care of my body at the SRU.” The multi-medalist at this year’s Warrior Games Challenge for Team Army says he took a chance and forged ahead with adaptive sports and other programs afforded to him at the SRU.

“Now I manage myself better. I feel like I have a new gust of wind and I can go forth and do all those things I thought I couldn’t do before.”
He hopes his journey will show other Soldiers not to be afraid and to embrace the SRU should they ever need it.

“You can’t be scared of the future because it’s going to come with or without you. In the end, you must do what’s right for yourself. If you need the SRU to get better don’t worry if it makes you look weaker because it doesn’t. You need to improve your health and be with people who will understand what you are going through.”