By Charmain BrackettApril 17, 2009
FORT GORDON, Ga.--(April 15, 2009) Although it's been in existence since 2004, the Charlie Norwood Veterans Affairs Active Duty Rehab Unit has had few female patients.
Toward the end of last week, a sixth female arrived at the unit, making it the most females in the wing at one time, according to Doug Mitchell with the active duty physical therapy unit.
For Sgt. Cary Dunaway, the experience is unusual.
"I've been the only female in every unit I've been with so I'm used to being one of the guys," said Dunaway, whose shoulder was injured after being struck by a vehicle in Iraq.
The female Soldiers in the unit have an array of injuries which brought them for rehabilitation.
Pvt. Brandy McMillen injured her collarbone while in basic training in a combatives course and has been at the VA since February.
A member of the Mississippi National Guard, McMillen followed in her father's footsteps. Her father, Sgt. Joe Crumpton is also part of the Guard.
"My unit is attached to my dad's," she said. "This is something I always wanted to do."
The two were scheduled to be deployed around the same time; however, he has suffered an injury as well.
Pvt. Theresa Thomas and Pvt. Sarah Minarik are both receiving treatment for similar injuries they received in Advanced Individual Training.
Both women have hip fractures from the repetitive motion of marching and running.
Thomas said she had been in pain for several days before she went to see a physician about her injuries.
"I went when I couldn't stand up," she said.
Thomas said she had considered joining the military, but finally did because "it's a job you can keep."
Sgt. 1st Class Pearlina Jeffers has 26 years military experience and has seen many changes in the service in her years with the National Guard.
"More jobs that were traditionally held by men are now held by women," said Jeffers who has knee replacement surgery.
The women said they are progressing well with their treatments.