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NEWS | Feb. 21, 2024

Going to the SRU means you get specialized care to repair what’s broken

By MaryTherese Army Recovery Care Program

Life as an Army Reservist took CW3 Kirk Holden many places over 24 years. During that time, the Criminal Investigation Division Specialist put a lot of wear and tear on his body. “I was deployed in Germany in 2022 and hurt my shoulder. I had prior injuries to my neck and back, so all of this together just snowballed.” Holden kept going and ignored pain… something most Soldiers do.

“I came up in the Army with the notion that if there isn’t a bone sticking out or you’re not bleeding, get back to work, so I did,” said the 56-year-old. He now knows taking stock and action on what is happening to your body has lasting effects on your future.

“I was demobilizing at Ft. Bliss, and one of the docs looked at my list of injuries and said you need to go to a Soldier Recovery Unit (SRU), and of course, I had no idea what that was.”

He was planning on returning to his life in Sparks, Nevada, but was encouraged to go to the Joint Base Lewis McChord Soldier Recovery Unit. “They said you need to go get seen and get these things fixed, or it's going to get worse.” He’s been at JBLM’s SRU since February 2023.

Holden said he will medically retire but sees the absolute value in the Army Recovery Care Program. “We’ve always thought that pushing through pain is macho and the right thing to do to get the mission done, but in the long run, you are jeopardizing the mission and your health. If you have an injury or illness, go to the SRU. It doesn’t mean you'll get kicked out of the military. It means you will get the specialized care you need to repair what is broken before it gets to the point that it can't be repaired.”

He is on the road to recovery thanks to the SRU and the myriad of options available to him. One of those options is adaptive sports, with a chance now to be a rockstar in that world, as the 2024 Army Trials are fast approaching, and Holden is throwing his hat in the ring to make the team. “I was just having fun doing adaptive reconditioning events like archery, for example. I had never shot a bow before but was good at it, so I kept practicing. Then, I was told by folks at my SRU that I should try out for the Army Trials.”

His first exposure to what’s ahead in the Army Trials next month was at Wheelchair Rugby Camp at Fort Belvoir, as it is one of the team sports at the Department of Defense Warrior Games. “I never heard of wheelchair rugby. Since I’ve started playing, I’ve learned there is a wheelchair rugby team in Reno, close to where I live, so I have to check that out. But this camp is great! We are learning the technical side of the house to include safety, rules, and more,” said Holden.

He sees his work in adaptive reconditioning paying off in the wheelchair rugby chair and life and is thankful for having gone through the program. “I've had to learn to do things differently, how to sit, how to lift, and movement in general. I’ve learned to strengthen the muscles around my injuries.”

He’s come a long way since his arrival at the SRU and is excited and proud of his progress. “I’m having fun and would love to be on Team Army… let's see how it goes!