By MaryTherese Griffin, Warrior Care and Transition
FORT BLISS, TX - "I thought I was a little too old for the games but my Warrior Transition Unit pushed me and here I am," said 55-year-old Kenneth Arnold. The Staff Sergeant in the Tennessee National Guard is competing in the 2019 Army Trials at Fort Bliss, Texas, a precursor to 2019 Warrior Games in Tampa in June.
He's already won multiple gold medals at Army Trials competition but the husband and father of three grown children says he still has a job to do. Arnold injured his spine in August 2017 and required surgery from his neck to mid-back, not an easy injury to recover from for one of the oldest Soldiers in the competition.
"I am at the WTU at Fort Campbell Kentucky. After my surgery I focused on my recovery and my physical therapist knew I had a competitive spirit and pushed me hard on a lot of activities we had in the WTU to get my strength back," said Arnold.
He says he wasn't going to attend the Army Trials, in fact they already had a team, but two Soldiers dropped out so they called on Arnold. Good thing they did as Arnold will be bringing Fort Campbell some serious hardware, winning two gold medals in the cycling, and bronze and silver medals in the rowing competition, so far. He sees "the kids" compete and grins to himself inside. All the hard work is paying off while he competes with Soldiers, some half his age.
"If I can keep up with you then I'm doing my job," says Arnold as he shares what connects him with fellow Soldier athletes. While they all want to be on Team Army Arnold says their link through the WTU's is what bonds them. They get to show that at Army Trials, competing yet still recovering.
While Army Trials are all about competition it's also a part of recovery for these Soldiers according to Arnold. "You can always get better."