An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

NEWS | May 26, 2024

Soldier recovers with the sound of music

By MaryTherese Griffin Army Recovery Care Program

Army Reservist Sgt Lee-Syonne Burchell has always loved music. “I love to sing! And I make my own music,” said the 27-year-old. She was able to hone her skills in an unexpected way because of a training accident in the Army.

“I got injured in training and had to have surgery on my shoulder. They said it was complex enough to go to the Soldier Recovery Unit, so now I am here at Ft Sewart and recovering well.”

Burchell’s accident happened in March of 2022, and she required a right bicep Tenodesis procedure that released her torn bicep tendons from her labrum. She says you don’t realize what you can’t do until you can’t.

“In the beginning, it was a little difficult learning to use only one arm, things like doing your hair, you know in the military your hair needs to be in a bun, or just putting on clothes, taking a shower, opening doors… And I am right-handed, so it made it ten times harder.”

When she learned about the Army Recovery Care Program and what Soldier Recovery Units (SRUs) do, she realized that the journey to recovery would be easier than she thought from a logistical perspective. “My medical readiness officer, Maj. Joahna Sandoval-Murchison told me going to the SRU was the best bet. I didn’t know what it was, but she said being around Soldiers in similar situations would help me recover.”

Burchell, who has two MOSs, is a Laboratory Medical Specialist and a Veterinary Food Inspector and found many different ways to recover and overcome at the Fort Stewart SRU. “Even though I couldn’t do much, I got involved in painting and adaptive ways to stay physically fit at the gym. I also learned about meditation: I loved meditation.”

However, the natural avenue for recovery, aside from time spent healing, came from the music therapy program.
“So many people use music as an outlet for their recovery. It’s fantastic therapy, and I don’t think it's talked about enough. A lot of Soldiers don’t know that music is adaptive therapy. You can use music to fit your mood, good or bad; it is very therapeutic.”

While working in music therapy at the Fort Stewart SRU, Burchell laughingly says she made some discoveries. “An aha moment for me is that I really need to practice playing guitar, but I did learn how good I am at music, and getting support from people cheering me on and encouraging me gives me confidence.”

The nine-year reservist says she built confidence during ARCP’s Battle of the Bands this year and was able to perform at the 2024 Army Trials at Fort Liberty. “I loved Battle of the Bands. I heard about it shortly after my surgery and wanted to be part of it.”

She said she’s sung at prayer breakfasts, sang the national anthem, and even sings outside of the military at events now. “I will keep singing and would love to keep singing for the military or anyone else who wants me,” said Burchell, who is diligently working to return to duty and continue in the civilian world in medicine.

“I have a Bachelor's in pre-medicine and am contemplating attending med school. I am doing an internship at Winn Army Hospital while I am at the SRU, and it’s great!”

With a smile on her face and always a song in her heart—her go-to, by the way, she says is the Pentatonix version of Hallelujah—she shares her encouragement for others who may encounter going to an SRU. “Make sure to keep your family in the loop and communicate what's going on. Find some emotional support while in recovery at the SRU. Just know you will get better, and we are all here to support each other.”

As a reservist, she said that having the ARCP opportunity is a unique blessing and hopes other Soldiers know it is also available to them. “I am so grateful my medical readiness officer told me about this because I am still getting paid, and I am still a Soldier. The beauty is that my job is to focus on my health, and that’s what’s kept me going. I feel like the Army is taking care of me, and again, I am so grateful."