"I will not take off this uniform"
By MaryTherese Griffin, Warrior Care and Transition

ARLINGTON, Va. - After suffering a medical emergency while on a deployment to Korea, Sgt. 1st Class Marc Jankovich saw his life, everything he and his wife had worked for, vanishing before his eyes. Doctors and therapists told him that his return to duty was not likely. However, his First Sergeant, 1st Sgt. Jennifer Snook, a member of the Medical Evaluation Board Council, and his Physical Therapist, Lindsey Davison, were not so sure. Jankovich went through the MEB process with one thought echoing through his mind, "I will not take off this uniform."

In 2016, the Combat Engineer was part of Operation Key Resolve in the Republic of Korea when he felt a sharp pain while setting up a tent. He later awoke in the middle of the night and could not move. He was medically evacuated from Korea and found himself in the fight of his life at the Warrior Transition Battalion in Fort Campbell, Kentucky in January 2016.

Jankovich worked out seven days a week, two to three hours per day to be sure he was in tip top shape before his surgery that July to have his L3-L5 (two vertebral levels) fused together.

"It was extremely hard. The first month, I could not stand up or walk. Just walking to the restroom was an achievement. I have come a very long way," said Jankovich.

Davison began working with Jankovich, once he was medically cleared, to help him stay in uniform. She helped him to begin walking and later progress to swimming, then to using machines in the gym and on to free weights. He was still working out seven days a week at two to three hours per day with one goal in mind: return to duty.

"I helped Marc realize he could do more than the doctors said he could. Helped him know he wasn't pushing himself too far and encouraged him to stay the path of [return to duty] no matter what," said Davison.

Jankovich took advantage of his recovery time at the WTB and got his body back in shape and kept his high.

"I knew whatever I decided to do with my life, I was going to be the best at it. I wanted to be a part of an organization that was huge and I was going to be the best in the organization. I wanted to be a part of something that was bigger and greater than myself," Jankovich said.

His desire and determination helped him beat the odds. Jankovich, kept his word and did not have to take off his uniform. He has returned to duty, now serving as a Platoon Sergeant at the Fort Campbell WTB. Davison says it's a testament to who Jankovich is that he was able to return to duty after his injury.

"His determination, hard work and passion for his career in the Army, as well as his love for his country, was enough to beat any odds. He is an incredible Soldier, "added Davison.