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NEWS | Nov. 6, 2023

Army Captain tackles Lupus, the MED Board, and life

By MaryTherese Griffin ARCP

Army Captain Anna Walker is from a military family. Five out of six siblings all serve and come by it honestly. “My Dad was in the Navy for twenty years and was a Lt. Commander when he retired. I wanted to serve 20 years just like him. I enjoyed it. But then, life changes.”

The Finance Manager was diagnosed with Lupus in the summer of 2021. She is currently at the Fort Carson Soldier Recovery Unit (SRU), and it’s not her first time there.

"This is my 2nd time at the Ft Carson SRU. The first time was in January 2020 when I was in a ski accident. I broke a lot of stuff in my body and had many surgeries. I recovered after a year and then returned to duty. A year later, I was admitted to the hospital where it was determined I have lupus, and now I'm back at Ft Carson SRU since last year.”

Walker explained what led to the Lupus diagnosis. She said it started with inflammation in the fingers. “I took Tylenol and put ice on my hands per the doctor’s order. It was strange. It was getting hard for me to get out of bed. I felt like I had arthritis and was coughing up blood, so they sent me to a civilian hospital and did testing. Once we knew, they sent me to a specialist in Denver.”

She was in the hospital and put on oxygen for six months. “Every day can be different. Some days, I am super fatigued. With Lupus, you can’t be in the sun long, and I am an outdoor person. My rheumatologist tells me to reapply sunscreen every two hours and to wear hats and long sleeves, if possible,” said the Team Army member who competed at the 2023 Department of Defense Warrior Games Challenge last June in San Diego.

“I won 2 silver medals in track running the 800- and 1500-meter races.” She hopes to return to the Army Trials in 2024 as a veteran. “I will retire in early 2024.”

She stays busy working on multiple programs within the Fort Carson SRU and is proud of her progress in the painting class. “I'm now the instructor for painting without a twist at our SRU; we do it once a month, and I focus on the holiday or season,” Walker says embracing the opportunities at the SRU can lead to you finding your hidden abilities.

Besides sharing her artistic ability, she shares her journey with other Soldiers facing a medical board and how it's not the end of the world. “I tell people my timeline for the med-board so they understand the process better. I remind them how spoiled we are to be in a Soldier Recovery unit, and we should all take advantage of every opportunity.”

Help with her career transition is the current opportunity Walker is gladly taking advantage of at the SRU. “My transition coordinator, Kim, has been helping me with my resume, applying for jobs, and getting me ready for job interviews.”

The forever optimistic person, Captain Walker, is still finding a way to serve but in a different way. “I still want to work for the government as a civilian. I’d love to be a budget analyst for the VA, so I would still work with military members."

She wants to be with like-minded people and help as well. Something she is grateful for that she has at the Fort Carson SRU. “If you do have to go to the SRU, it’s the most helpful thing for a Soldier. Whether you want to return to duty or leave the military, they will work with you to make that possible. Just pack your patience; it is a process. There are many opportunities at the SRU, so take advantage of them."