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NEWS | Dec. 12, 2023

The Army takes care of Soldiers like no other company.

By MaryTherese Griffin ARCP

Army Reservist, Sgt. 1st Class Derrick Miller loves being a military police officer. Most of his twenty years of service have seen three deployments and a lot of wear and tear on his body. At the end of his last mobilization in As Saliyah, Qatar, for nine months, he injured his knee. “Once I got to the demobilization station at Ft Bliss, Texas, they sent me for an MRI and said I needed to go to Ft Riley to have it fixed.”

He had a meniscus tear and cartilage issues. While going into fixing those, the surgeons discovered other problems and told the 52-year-old he needed a total replacement. “They say it’s more about the mileage than the age when it comes to knee replacement,” he chuckled. Miller explained that it was a no-brainer to accept help from the Ft Riley Soldier Recovery Unit (SRU) to recover and overcome.

“When going through the demobilization process, they explain what the care will look like and your options if you are injured or ill. You can choose not to go to an SRU and go home and use the VA. I’m thrilled I chose the SRU.” He arrived at the FT Riley SRU on Valentine’s Day, 2023.
Miller, who has a civilian job back home in Springfield, Missouri, says it is hard to choose to be away from your family and your regular job to recover. He looks beyond his injury and recognizes it’s the best fit in the long run.

“I look at it this way- The Army is my company, and the company’s taking care of me, making sure my medical needs are being met and they are still paying me, offering me all kinds of helpful programs, and my only job is to get better. Trust me, my job back home wouldn’t do this. No job would.”

At the Fort Riley SRU, Miller said improvement opportunities are everywhere. “They have education-type classes and internship opportunities if you have transitional goals, and plenty of counselors are here to meet with you. There are also adaptive sports to help you recover and to figure out what you can do.”

Miller is thankful for the adaptive reconditioning events, especially adaptive sports. “I try to participate in all the adaptive reconditioning events …they have something for everybody. I’m a team sports guy and a gym rat, so adaptive sports are great. I learned to shoot a bow and arrow, which I never did before.”

Miller hopes to be at Army Trials in a few months, competing for a spot on Team Army. He explained embracing all the SRU has to offer is half the battle. No one wants to be in one or away from their family. “It’s all about your state of mind and how you want to attack it. It's about being positive and proactive. If you’re not going to take care of yourself, you’re missing out. All kinds of helpful things are available here, but nobody will make you take advantage of them.”

Miller just had his total knee replacement and is making daily appointments and therapy sessions. “I’m a little over six weeks post-surgery, but it’s going well.” He says it's about setting and achieving goals while at the SRU.

“There are plenty of selections that work around your medical appointment schedule. There is always something to do. Sometimes, I participate in some programs or events to have something to do. It's spending time wisely.”