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NEWS | April 15, 2024

Unpacking a Soldier’s story and why it’s important

By MaryTherese Griffin Army Recovery Care Program

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and words do matter. That’s why the Army Recovery Care Program's Senior Leader Summit at Fort Belvoir recently emphasized the importance of sharing the stories of the nation’s wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers. Strategic Communications Chief Julie Oliveri underscored the crucial role of the Soldier Recovery Units in this process. “Every Soldier has a story and a path through recovery, and the SRUs play a pivotal role in sharing these stories. When other Soldiers or family members read and can see themselves or their Soldier in the article, the word-of-mouth spreads the incredible benefits of this program far faster than any posters or advertisements.”

There are fourteen Soldier Recovery Units (SRUs) nationwide, helping Soldiers recover and overcome injury, illness, or wounds. Leadership from each SRU saw some of the highlights of their units and Soldiers on the big screen at the summit. Deputy Director of Public Affairs for MEDCOM and OTSG Wesley Elliot echoed Oliveri’s comment: “When the SRUs are out talking about their story, making it personal drives it home to the audience and lets people know why we are here.”

Lt. Col Brian Farrell, who commands the SRU at Fort Belvoir, said the story is essential and goes beyond the individual Soldier. “Telling the Soldier's story is immensely important because it’s their individual story; however, it's also an opportunity for others to learn, share, and understand what their fellow Soldiers are going through. Soldiers in recovery often have life-changing or life-altering circumstances that lead them to the Soldier Recovery Unit. Sometimes, when they first show up, they typically feel alone and probably don’t believe anyone else has gone through what they have. Still, hearing someone else's story shows you that you are not alone and that recovery takes a lot of different paths and provides them a sense of community that they might not have ever had.”
Farrell also recognizes that talking about ARCP through storytelling is a needed educational tool for the public. The program began nearly twenty years ago and is available to any Soldier, active guard, or reserve. It is paramount to ensure they know they will be taken care of should the unthinkable happen.

“It’s vastly important for everyone to know what the program is about because we ask a lot of our Soldiers. They’ve signed a contract willing to give up everything, including their life. All they do it for is the best leadership the government can provide them and to take care of their health care on the way out. We’ve made great strides in caring for Soldiers over the last twenty years since the program existed.”

Elliott is all about the Soldier’s story and the program's mission and likes the idea of giving people something to talk about, especially when that something benefits our wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers. “Talking about the program continues to put it into the public discussion; it keeps Congress and the Army involved so that programs like this don’t get overlooked and we lose this valuable resource that helps our Soldiers when they need it. It always comes back to ensuring we honor our commitment to the people in uniform.”