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NEWS | July 27, 2023

My new normal is allowing me to return to duty

By MaryTherese Griffin ARCP

 Sgt. Samuel Casey is in the South Carolina National Guard. The notion of having to make adaptations to his life due to medical issues didn’t thrill him but he knew it was necessary.

“It’s no different than adapting to a mission we are on in the Army when things change, and they do. We sort of have to do that, so why not in our personal lives if we are injured or ill?” The combat engineer who was also a military police officer faced this reality when the arthritis in his hip exacerbated weakening his hip allowing for injury.

“I have arthritis in my right hip and a tear in my labrum and some bone spurs, it slowed me down. It got aggravated from deployments. I received a bunch of physical therapy and learned I would need hip replacement in about 10 years,” said Casey who was assigned to the Fort Liberty Soldier Recovery Unit (SRU) in November 2022.

The avid athlete who competed in strong man competitions had to slow down prior to the SRU stay. He says embracing the opportunities to adapt will get you closer to victory. “I’ve had to find new ways to train because I can’t do things physically the way I did years ago. It’s important to encourage people to adapt,” said the Team Army athlete who just competed earlier this summer at Warrior Games Challenge in San Diego, Calif.

Casey knows firsthand how the recovery process works if you commit to adapting. “I saw athletes injured far worse than me back at Army trials, but I think it’s important for people to see there is a progression to this process. It shows if you get hurt or have a medical condition there are ways to recover and overcome. It may not be the same normal but it’s a new normal,” said the Return to Duty Soldier.

“My new normal is allowing me to return to duty and I am very happy about that!” Casey shares with other Soldiers going through any kind of medical or mental health issue to look at what the SRU’s have to offer and to adapt. He even shared an a-ha moment that surprised him. “I look at just adapting to the physical therapy side of being at the SRU and realized I was running better than before I went to Kuwait years ago. It’s a slow building up process.”

Casey has a plan after serving in the Guard and further encourages Soldiers to take advantage of schooling opportunities as well. “I will be taking over my dad’s plumbing company when I retire. I’m getting my certifications now. “

When he looks back on this last year of adaptation, he sees the Army Recovery Care Program was the best choice for his future. “This was an overwhelmingly positive experience for me.”