By Chanel S. Weaver, U.S. Army Public Health CommandMarch 27, 2015
At just 22 years old, Spc. Samuel Scudder has accomplished more for himself than some people achieve in a lifetime.
He was an outstanding kicker for his high school football team; served his Nation as a Marine; later joined the Army; deployed to a combat zone in Afghanistan; welcomed his first son just 10 months ago; and is competing in his first Army Trials.
Approximately 100 wounded, ill or injured Soldiers and Veterans are at Fort Bliss to train and compete in a series of competitive athletic events including archery, cycling, shooting, sitting volleyball, swimming, track and field and wheelchair basketball. Army Trials competition, March 29 -- April 2, is conducted by the Army Warrior Transition Command and hosted by Fort Bliss. Army Trials help determine who will get a spot on the Department of Defense Warrior Games 2015 Army Team in June at Marine Corps Base, Quantico, Virginia.
During Scudder's deployment to Afghanistan, he was injured in a fall, and sustained nerve damage, lost mobility in his knee and suffered some hearing loss in his left ear.
While such injuries would cause some people to avoid any physical activity, Scudder is just not the type of guy who wants to sit at home and do nothing.
"In the Army, we learn to be resilient," said Scudder. "I refuse to let an injury define who I am."
Scudder discovered that swimming laps in a pool actually helped his knee heal, but he also discovered something more.
"I realized I was pretty good at this thing, and when I heard about the Army Trials, I thought it would be the perfect place for me to try something new," said Scudder.
When Scudder arrived for the Army Trials practice session at Fort Bliss, he was impressed with the high-quality coaching team who assists the athletes.
One particular coach is Glen O'Sullivan, a U.S. Paralympic team coach who assists the swimming team.
"My goal is to help each athlete succeed," said O'Sullivan, who also spent nine years in the Marine Corps and eight years as a water survival instructor for the Navy. "I don't want them to focus on their disability, but on understanding what they can do. Anything is possible if you have the mind to succeed."
Scudder said the Army Trials coaching staff let him know that he can compete in spite of his injury.
Those who work with Scudder on a regular basis are not surprised by his drive and determination to succeed.
Staff Sgt. Garfield Harriott, a fellow Soldier with combat experience serves as Scudder's supervisor at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. He said that Scudder is an example among his peers.
"He is not a complainer, and he finds solutions to problems," said Harriott. "His attitude is always positive, and you can always see him helping other Soldiers."
Scudder hopes to return to regular duty within the Army soon.
Staff Sgt. Timothy Adams, Jr., a squad leader for the Army Trials, is responsible for assisting Soldiers with their day-to-day activities and helping them through their therapy and recovery process. He knows firsthand that a Soldier can return to duty, even after a debilitating injury. He has had three separate deployments to Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait, and was injured himself by shrapnel when an improvised explosive device was deployed while he was on a convoy mission. He has returned to active duty, and works to inspire the other athletes.
"You have to push yourself," said Adams. "You have to be resilient."
In addition to competing in the swimming category, Scudder will also compete in several other categories including wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball, cycling and shooting.
Scudder said his fellow warriors are really the ones who motivate him.
"The most enjoyable part of being here is the comradery among the group," said Scudder.