By MaryTherese Griffin, Warrior Care and TransitionApril 2, 2018
ARLINGTON, Va. - Just like the country music song by a recording artist with the same name, U.S. Army Captain Kenny Rodgers believes it might be time to "fold 'em" on his military career.
"I am trying to return to duty, but the healing process isn't going as well as I hoped. After 23 plus years, I may have to hang it up and retire," Rodgers said. "I'd like to stay in the fight, but I'm not sure I can at this point."
Rodgers was injured while on a mission as a Company Commander in support of the Conus Replacement Center. During the mission, Rodgers conducted numerous physical fitness events with Soldiers. One of those events was a run with the 1st Armored Division in June of 2015. Half way through the run, Rodgers's left knee gave out.
"I went to the hospital and they said that I was running completely on bone. The cartilage in my knee had been destroyed from years of abuse. That's what started the domino effect of issues."
Rodgers has had six surgeries and both knees have undergone autologous chondrocyte implantation, to treat cartilage defects, and tibia tubercle osteotomy, to improve the alignment of the patella
His knee issues began to reshape his future prior to being assigned to the Warrior Transition Battalion at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
"The [warrior care and transition program] has taught me to stay within my abilities due to my injuries. It's given me a way to focus my efforts towards something positive and not dwell on the negative things that happened to me," Rodgers said. "I pray that others will see the advantages of the program, both on the cadre side as well as the Soldiers going through treatment."
While recovering at the WTB, Rodgers discovered adaptive reconditioning and became heavily involved. "The adaptive reconditioning program is great and I think the competition is awesome! I've been in 23 years and didn't know about it until I came to the WTB, said Rodgers."
Through the adaptive reconditioning program, Rodgers learned about the Department of Defense Warrior Games. He was skeptical at first, but that changed quickly.
"At first I wasn't sure about [DoD Warrior Games]. I just felt it was just different things someone threw together to keep Soldiers entertained. But after checking out the archery program and air rifle and air pistol, I was hooked and wanted to try more," Rodgers said. "I enjoyed learning and challenging myself to do better. The recurve bow was something I always wanted to try but I never did until now. I absolutely love it and I hope to continue to get better."
The Captain, who comes from a long line of military service, has earned himself a spot on Team Army for the 2018 DoD Warrior Games in Colorado Springs, Colorado where he will compete in archery, shooting and field events.
After going down his road of injury and recovery, Rodgers will still try not to "fold 'em" and return to duty, but if he does, his next hand already has cards he knows he needs to hold.