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NEWS | Feb. 2, 2024

The SRU sets Soldiers up for success whether they return to duty or retire.

By MaryTherese Griffin Army Recovery Care Program

A career as a Soldier appealed to Sgt. Christopher Mulligan. The former Virginia law enforcement officer became an Infantryman and thought he had it all figured out until a deployment in 2022 changed all that. “I got hurt on my deployment and had to have back surgery in July 2022; I then went on to Germany, then Walter Reed, and ended up at the Soldier Recovery Unit (SRU) at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, that August.”

He says he didn’t know what the game plan was anymore, and it was unfamiliar territory to him.” I was thrown into the mix. When I learned I was going to an SRU, I was not sure what it was, “said the 30-year-old married father of a new daughter.

Mulligan learned quickly how fortunate he was to be at the Ft Belvoir SRU as his home is in Woodbridge, VA, so his wife and daughter could be part of his daily recovery. “The SRU worked very closely with me and allowed me to stay at home but continue my care from there,” said Mulligan, who medically retired last month.
As much as the SRU helped Mulligan recover from his injury, he says he was most impressed by how he was helped with his future. “When you first get in and meet with everyone, folks at the SRU start providing you with information immediately. It can be overwhelming, but lucky for me, I had a great Transition Coordinator named James Coleman who provided the necessary resources and followed up with me…kind of like a coach.”

Just like a coach who gets to know their players, Coleman learned Mulligan speaks a second language and found just the right play for him to study. “After investigating, we learned that there was a need for multilingual people, and I landed a job in the intelligence community after going through additional programs at the SRU.”

From schooling to testing to job seeking, the SRU sets Soldiers up for success whether they return to duty or retire. Mulligan says being med-boarded wasn’t the negative thing he thought it might be, but that’s because of people like James Coleman. “I have such high praise for Mr. Coleman and how he takes care of Soldiers and makes us better. I credit him with developing me into a more marketable person in the civilian world. He also advised me to get back in school, and I am now 21 credits away from graduating.”

The best-laid plans can always change, and for Mulligan and his family, the new plan after the SRU is better than they had hoped for. “It’s bittersweet; I will miss the Army, but it's exciting to see what's ahead. With the help of the good Lord above, Mr. Coleman, and the folks at the SRU, my mentality is this…they gave 110%, so I will give 110%. Everyone was great to me. My wife is happy, my little one is happy- life is good.”