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NEWS | July 9, 2024

Just keep moving

By MaryTherese Griffin Army Recovery Care Program

The 2024 Warrior Games were set to be a defining moment for Sgt 1st Class Jeffrey Peters, but fate had other plans. Just four days before the games, the Team Army athlete was involved in a harrowing cycling accident at Fort Riley. “I hurtled down a road at 30 mph when a sharp turn forced me to brake. The next thing I knew, I was airborne, my left shoulder slamming into the pavement, my head cracking my helmet.”

He saw his ability to compete in the Warrior Games fade as he was driven away in an ambulance and headed for the hospital. Four days later, Peters showed up in Orlando with his arm in a sling and some visible injuries he was nursing back to health. “I came here to support the team and wanted to at least be here for the team. I felt like I let them down when I hurt my shoulder, but this is my team, and I came here for them.”

Ok. Being Team Amy's support system and cheerleader-in-chief isn’t how he thought he would be at the games this year. He’s used to medaling for Team Army, as he competed in the 2022 Warrior Games, winning eleven medals in track, cycling, rowing, and field. He also competed on Team US at the 2023 Invictus Games in Dusseldorf, Germany, winning three medals in track and discus.

Before considering withdrawing from the games, Peters was determined not to let his team down. “I didn’t think I would be able to do anything, but my x-rays showed no broken bones or dislocated shoulder. It was swollen and banged up, but the docs and PTs here were great. They checked me out and reclassified me so I could compete at a level without hurting myself further .” His determination was unyielding.

Peter’s track record of determination is evident in his journey through the Fort Riley Soldier Recovery Unit (SRU), where he was introduced to adaptive sports a few years ago. “In 2021, I had an ischemic stroke, my whole left side was affected- I was in inpatient rehab for a few weeks. I was discharged in a wheelchair, and I needed assistance. It took a lot of brain power. My wife was my caregiver and did everything for me for six months.”

In early 2022, Peters went to the Soldier Recovery Unit at Fort Riley and is thankful that the Army Recovery Care Program was there to help. “It was an opportunity for me to move forward in my recovery. I honestly didn’t think I could stay and serve in the Army, but that changed when I went to the SRU.”

The return-to-duty Soldier knew he had a long road ahead with speech, occupational, and physical therapy. He said the encouragement from his family and the staff at the SRU made all the difference. “In my case, before I went to the SRU, I was dragging my body across the floor in my house to play with my kids with just one good arm and one good leg, but the key was to keep going, and eventually, I was able to move and restore movement to my left side then I was upright walking, and here I am today.”

Peters won eight medals at this year’s Warrior Games in the most adaptive way he could imagine, without using his left arm. He recognizes the great company he is in at the games and is proud of everyone’s progress. “There are other athletes on Team Army as well as the other teams with similar stories, and every single one has a great story that highlights that they just kept moving forward instead of just sinking back in the chair and letting the world happen around them.”

For Peters, the opportunity to compete at a level like Warrior Games is cathartic. “It’s a huge eye-opener into a whole new world. When you are on Team Army, you are representing the Army and also representing what people who are wounded, ill, or injured can do. There will always be a way forward if you keep moving. Get in the right direction and keep moving and working it!”