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NEWS | March 2, 2024

The SRU takes you from can’t do to can do.

By MaryTherese Griffin Army Recovery Care Program

As a member of the South Carolina National Guard, Spc. Berenice Carmona had the best of both worlds. Working in a civilian security job and also as a military police officer. After a deployment to Kuwait in 2021 her whole life changed, all because she knew how to drive stick shift.

“You’d be surprised how many people don’t know how to drive stick; I was one of about four on a deployment who did so I was on the bus driving detail to help. We would rotate and one day getting off the bus I just drove, I slipped on the rocks and tore my meniscus and ACL."

That happened in March of 2021 but like most Soldiers Carmona wanted to see the mission through. “I had to continue with the convoy mission…I was in pain the whole time but the mission came first and we were in places where medical wasn’t exactly available.”

She ended up at the Fort Stewart Soldier Recovery Unit in September of 2021 and had surgery to repair her injuries. “I was really nervous because I remember finding out I was going to the SRU and wondered what would happen to me. I learned quickly how the SRU could help me recover and I’m so glad I went.”

The married mother of one daughter said accepting help from the SRU was the beginning of new and different things in her life. “There is this whole program that does amazing things. My mental health got 30% better when I got there and learned how they would take care of me.

Through therapy and adaptive reconditioning, Carmona learned how to do things differently. Her range of motion she says is limited but her newfound love of adaptive sports is helping her in a way she never imagined. “You go from can't do, to can do. It gets your morale up. It gets you active again. You might be slipping into depression because you can’t be as active as you were and maybe because you couldn’t move like you did you ate and gained pounds but then they teach you how to be active again and take care of yourself,” said Carmona.

She played soccer in high school and is so glad they have adaptive sports. “They taught me from the beginning how to do things differently and now, the competitive side of me has come out,” she said with a smile.

Carmona is competing at Fort Liberty this week to be on Team Army for the 2024 Department of Defense Warrior Games this June in Orlando.

“I’m competing in weightlifting, rowing, wheelchair basketball, cycling, wheelchair rugby. I would feel proud to be a part of Team Army. I struggled when they told me I was going to medically retire because I knew I was part of something important- now if I am on Team Army, I know I will be a part of something special again.”