By Annette P. Gomes, Warrior Care and TransitionMarch 8, 2018
FORT BLISS, Texas -- Carnal malformation of the brain, severe scoliosis, osteoporosis, bursitis in hips and knees. Any one of these health issues would challenge most people, but Staff Sgt. Stephanie Brown says she wasn't going to let her health challenges affect her Army career. Giving up was not an option.
"I started my Army career and want to finish my twenty years of service on my own terms," said Brown. "I was not going to allow others to make my decision for me."
Brown returned to duty in November 2017 to the 401st Military Police Command. Returning to duty was the front of her mind while she healed at Fort Hood's Warrior Transition Battalion.
"I had an excellent nurse case manager in Bravo Company who allowed me to concentrate on healing and determining my own path which was to return to duty and attend college classes," Brown said.
The third generation Army Soldier set her sights on accomplishing another goal; mastering a variety of adaptive reconditioning sports, some old and some new.
"I really enjoy the adaptive sports program," said Brown. "I was never hesitant about the programs because it allowed me to do everything I enjoyed doing while helping other Soldiers experience something new. I was already heavy into archery but I ended up trying air rifle, enjoyed it and talked other Soldiers into joining me in both sports.
"I was also a swimmer and getting in the water just made me feel whole and I was able to do something that I had done prior to my surgery," she continued. "Doctors removed part of my skull and replaced it with duraplasty. They also removed the first bone on my spine and back which was causing my scoliosis."
Along with her husband, Frank, and her extended family, the Pennsylvania native says her sense of support came from several Soldiers healing alongside her at the Fort Hood Warrior Transition Battalion.
"We challenged each other and helped each other to get better in our individual sporting events," Brown explained. "We cheered each other on. Our adaptive sports coordinator, Susan, called us her squirrels because we laughed and joked along the way but we always refocused and got back on track."
This week she's focused on challenging herself at the 2018 Army Trials.
74 wounded, ill, and injured athletes at Fort Bliss, Texas participated in the 2018 Army Trials March 3 - 8. These Soldiers and veterans competed in 10 events with hopes of earning a spot on Team Army for the 2018 Department of Defense Warrior Games, June 2 - 9 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Brown will compete in archery, air rifle, 50m freestyle, 50 meter backstroke, 100 meter freestyle, sitting volleyball and wheelchair basketball.
"Participating in Army Trials allows me to feel like part of a team instead of an outsider who doesn't belong," said Brown. "I feel as if I actually fit in somewhere and I have people that will challenge me to be better. Anything is possible no matter what the obstacle is. I know I can do anything I put my mind to."