Injured Soldier now able to drive
By MaryTherese Griffin, Warrior Care and Transition


ARLINGTON, Va. - In January 2017, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Stephen Schroeder and his crew crashed their UH- 60 Black Hawk helicopter during a training exercise. Schroeder sustained a multitude of injuries: a traumatic brain injury, second and third degree burns, cervical break in his neck (non-spinal), lacerated liver, spinal cord injury, broken left arm, nine broken ribs, and a broken right foot. He was assigned to the Warrior Transition Unit at Fort Campbell, Kentucky to recover.

"The WTU has been a great source of support for my family and me. Because I had so many injuries and continued medical issues, it was great to have a dedicated nurse case manager who took care of the administrative issues for me so I could focus on healing," Schroeder said. "The WTU has been a great source of collective information for all aspects of life after transition from active military service. [They provided me with] information on job training, grants for health and medical equipment, opportunities for wounded warriors, etc. I would tell any Soldier who finds themselves in a WTU to learn about and take advantage of the benefits that are there for you and that you have earned."

Schroeder's colleagues and commanders are impressed with his progress and Schroeder says he is able to accept all of life's challenges head-on because of his faith. One post-recovery challenge Schroeder faced adapting to his new normal was that his injuries left him unable to drive a car. Schroeder knew it was possible for vehicles to be outfitted with handbrakes, so he looked into having it done. "[Fitting the car for handbrakes] was something I was interested in to gain back a little more independence. I was introduced to a non-profit organization that supports wounded warriors by the WTU and they were generous enough to make the request happen and get our vehicle outfitted with hand controls."

A vehicle with hand controls has been a blessing for the Schroeder family, it has not only allowed Schroeder the independence he wanted and needed, but it's also allowed him to help the family out as well.

"We have four children who are in four different activities at any one time. Being able to drive again takes the pressure off my wife to be the constant chauffeur or to continually rely on friends and neighbors for transportation issues. It also helps with giving a feeling of independence back, rather than relying on another person to take you everywhere."