FORT BLISS, Texas -- Pfc. Nakita Bowen is recuperating from lower extremity injuries at the Fort Drum Warrior Transition Unit. She hoped to return to duty but sadly that was not meant to be.
"That wasn't the initial plan coming into the WTU...but after discussing it with my team I think it is best for me to step aside and let someone else who is more capable of accomplishing those military goals instead of me hurting and fighting (to stay in the Army). The Army's readiness is important. I think that it's important for the Army to stay ready, so you don't have to get ready."
Her selfless attitude demonstrates the Holland native's love for the Army she wanted to join as a teenager when she came to the United States.
"I always wanted to be in the Army, but my parents said I needed to wait, so when I get the opportunity I seized it." She injured her groin and hips in basic training during a training exercise but soldiered on, even being accepted to attend Airborne school. While there her injuries became even more aggravated and she ended up at Fort Drum Warrior Transition Union (WTU), with more than physical injuries.
"I wasn't in the right mindset. I felt like a failure, I felt like I wasn't being the soldier I could be, and I felt down like I failed my mission. But now I've learned it was another chapter in my life being written for me," she said.
The staff and program at the WTU gave her a new lease on life through adaptive sports. Bowen is competing at the 2019 Army Trials, at Fort Bliss, Texas, with nearly 100 other wounded, ill or injured active duty Soldiers and veterans.
"Without the WTU I wouldn't be here competing with these other amazing athletes," said Bowen. Her drive is evident after winning two gold medals in track, one gold medal in powerlifting, and one gold medal in rowing competitions. Bowen has also earned two silver on the field events of shot put and discus.
For this 'extreme sports nut,' as she calls herself, making it on Team Army for the 2019 Warrior Games in Tampa Florida in June would be a great way to finish her Army career.
"To me going to Warrior Games on Team Army would be the last accomplishment I could make in the Army, and I can take (the win) to the civilian world and brag about the games and WTU... I've been through so many hurdles to get here as have my fellow Soldier athletes... to wear that uniform that says Team Army, I would be the proudest little Soldier.... I get to serve my Army in one last cool way."
She says the staff at the WTU welcomed her with open arms and helped put her on the path with the Soldiers competing at Army Trials, with whom, she says, she has more in common than just a uniform.
"We are going through the same fight together in the WTU and to get to the Warrior Games... to recover and conquer...and what great company I am in."