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NEWS | Feb. 26, 2024

Return to duty amputee Soldier says, “Tell me I can’t do something."

By MaryTherese Griffin Army Recovery Care Program

Just like in the country music hit “Every Mile a Memory” by Grammy award-winning artist Dierks Bentley, the words “takes me back to the fire in your eyes” played out like a scene from a movie at the 2024 Army Trials.

Jaralyn Ditlevson who is a military caregiver spouse to her husband Major Jermey Ditlevson couldn’t believe what she was seeing while at the track and field competition the morning of March 3rd.

“Jeremy realized he recognized Coach Adriane Wilson, but he could not verbalize who she was, but he was overly excited and trying to tell me and he kept pointing so I was like ok? Then he walked over to her and kept pointing at her. So, Coach Adriane asked if he wanted to talk about field stuff or stuff about her and he squeezed her bicep to give her the cue that it was about her!”

This is hugely important because it isn’t just about reconnecting with someone in his past. It’s about progress in recovery. Major Jeremy Ditlevson had a massive stroke just over a year ago leaving him unable to walk and speak and without the use of his right arm. But his wife saw something in his eyes that morning at Fort Liberty.

“He was so excited, and it was nice to see that he recognized someone from way before his stroke happened. We were concerned about memories because of his stroke, that his brain function was impaired, but he knew her and he was trying to relay it,” said Jaralyn.

They traveled many miles from Texas to North Carolina for Jeremy to compete to be on Team Army with a chance to go to the 2024 Department of Defense Warrior Games in Orlando this June. Those miles were now proving to have extra added value. Jaralyn shared the conversation with coach Adriane that proved every mile IS a memory and that he still has them!

“Coach Adriane said OK let's go into about me! She started with she was from Ohio, and I answered for Jeremy and said so is he! Then she said she went to Ashland University, and I said Oh my so did he! Then she said Well, I worked at Linders as a waitress which is a local bar and grill, and then Jeremy said YES! She was his waitress over 20 years ago before he joined the Army!” Jeremy joined in 2004 and Jaralyn didn’t know him then, so she was excited to learn a piece of his past in such a kismet moment.

Coach Adriane Wilson couldn’t believe it either! “It was such an incredible moment! When I looked over the athlete list, the Ditlevson name was familiar (it’s not a common name) but I didn’t make the connection right away. My heart burst when Jeremy looked at me and he helped me realize how we knew each other! Huge win for him. I am so happy our friendship 20 years ago stuck with him.”

The Ditlevsons created another memory and Jaralyn has her answer after a year about his brain function in the memory department. “This is an absolute win here because he is connecting the dots to previous memories.”

Army Trials 2024…Finding and making memories!