Pushing yourself to come out on top
By MaryTherese Griffin, Army Warrior Care and Transition

ARLINGTON, Va. - U.S. Army Reserve Soldier Spc. Tiara Williams is the daughter of Soldiers and joined the military to serve her country and to help pay for college. Her career took a turn when she fractured her foot during a deployment to Kuwait last year. Williams was assigned to the Warrior Transition Unit, Fort Riley, Kansas to heal and return to duty.

"The staff at the WTU is very helpful, and prompt with getting answers to questions that I did not know about the WTU but now that I do, I am very appreciative. I appreciate the different opportunities that are offered through the program," said Williams.

Along with physical therapy and classes related to her recovery, Williams and another WTU Soldier, Spc. Jonathan Hatch, were offered a unique opportunity to work with the DIAVOLO Architecture in Motion, a dance company famous for being a 2017 Finalist on the NBC show America's Got Talent. DIAVOLO developed the Veterans Project program to help veterans restore their physical, mental and emotional strength by healing through motion. The project offered a few positions to Soldiers at Fort Riley's WTU.

"The project was an intensive two-week workshop that wanted to display how well veterans and civilians can work together and how well we were able to adapt to the way the director wanted his vision to come across," said Williams who performed with DIAVOLO at Kansas State University's McCain Auditorium on March 29-30, 2019.

Recreational Therapist, Kersey Henderson knows that it was hard for Williams and Hatch to perform with the dance company, but believes the experience helped them personally. "I am so proud of them for stepping out of their comfort zone and participating in something so hard and emotional," Henderson said. "They have gained a level of confidence that, I believe, came from this performance. This definitely impacted their life."

"I can say that [participating in the project] helped me to not be as timid with certain movements. I am still nervous to make quick movements due to occasional pain," said Williams. "It was an overall great experience. I was able to make new friends, and it opened a lot of networking doors for me. I am happy that I stuck through it, and was able to complete the project."

Williams and Hatch had plenty of support from WTU staff and cadre at their performance. Staff Sgt. Adam Avilla attended the event and was amazed by what he saw.

"Two weeks was all they had to get ready for this performance. Had I not had the benefit of knowing who they were, I wouldn't have been able to identify them from the DIAVOLO performers. Everyone is well trained," Avilla said.

"This experience allowed the Soldiers to realize that although they may be down at the moment due to their injury, they are not out of the fight and can push themselves and come out on top," Avilla continued.

Williams has recovered from her injury and has returned to her Army Reserve duties working in the Head Start Program and is also working toward a Master's degree in Industrial Organizational Psychology.