Utilizing all services available is the key to transitioning
By MaryTherese Griffin, Warrior Care and Transition

ARLINGTON, Va. - Wounded, injured and ill Soldiers from the Fort Carson, Colorado Warrior Transition Unit paddled and peddled their way to a wellness event last month in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. A weekend of adaptive cycling, kayaking and paddle boarding was provided in partnership with the Steamboat Adaptive Recreational Sports.

Community support to WTUs around the country is vital according to Recreational Therapist Rachel Bennatt. She says that the events designed to help Soldiers through their recovery are gems to be discovered.

"My biggest advice I give to Soldiers is to utilize all the services that are available to them. If you're not sure on what services you can use, feel free to ask. There are a lot of services that are free for Soldiers in a WTU that would normally cost money. We have a wonderful team at the WTU and the main goal for everyone is to support Soldiers in transition, "said Bennatt.

The adaptive reconditioning program offers numerous adaptive activities and events such as the Steamboat trip. In December, there is a ski trip to Breckenridge, Colorado. Utilizing all services available is a key to transitioning," Bennatt said.

Sgt. Ray Steele is one Soldier who is participating in the ARP. The married father of three knew about Warrior Care and Transition but didn't know anyone in a WTU until he was assigned to the WTU at Fort Carson after his second deployment to Afghanistan in 2012. Steele was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury as a result of an improvised explosive device attack. He is currently awaiting the results of a Medical Evaluation Board for injuries he received during the attack.

Bennatt sees how hard it is to not only recover from physical injuries but also sees the emotional aspect of a Soldier's family life being completely changed. Family is a key component at the WTU according to Bennatt.

Sgt. Ray Steele sees an even bigger family now. "I consider the WTU as a close knit family and they have assisted with all my needs on and off duty. They really care about Soldiers and their families," said Steele.

Families who participated in the paddling and peddling with Steele and his family are part of the pillars in which the WTU hold dear in helping Soldiers recover. "Those activities as a family help boost the physical, emotional, and mental well-being of our recovering Soldiers. Besides reducing stress, the benefits of adaptive kayaking and paddle boarding also include improving overall mental health and quality of life, according to Bennatt.

Steele couldn't agree more. "The outing with STARS brought me closer to my family and fellow Soldiers with similar issues and backgrounds in the military."