Sgt. Jordan Burgess climbs out of the comfort zone
By Annette P. Gomes, Army Warrior Care and Transition

ARLINGTON, Va. - Every Tuesday around 2 p.m., you can find U.S. Army Sgt. Jordan Burgess climbing the walls at the Whitside Fitness Center at Fort Riley, Kansas.

"After arriving at the Warrior Transition Unit, I was looking for activities I could attend when I saw rock climbing was available. I had never been climbing and was hesitant, but I found it interesting and decided to checked it out," said Burgess.

Hesitancy or not, Burgess, an Indirect Fire Infantry Specialist, began climbing in the "easy" lane in December of 2018. In April of 2019, he broadened his horizons by conquering all the lanes of the rock wall and even expanding his territory beyond the state of Kansas.

"The Army is where it all began for me, so returning to duty and advancing myself as a Soldier and a leader is of the utmost importance to me," said Burgess.

"I normally climb on Tuesdays, but I recently began climbing during the weekend and often climbing in the Kansas City, Missouri area," Burgess said. "Climbing to me is just something I find fun and relaxing. I really enjoy the different aspects of the sport. It's always a great feeling when I solve a problem that I spend days to weeks trying to conquer."

Rock climbing has become a popular adaptive reconditioning sport among Soldiers recovering at Warrior Transition Units. Wounded, ill and injured service members use adaptive sports and other reconditioning activities as part of their rehabilitation process to improve their self-image, self-esteem, leadership, camaraderie and overall quality of life.

"With guidance on proper climbing techniques and modified climbing positioning, Soldiers are able to build strength and become successful in an alternative strength and conditioning type of activity," said Kersey Henderson, Recreational Therapist at Fort Riley. "During the climbing events, Soldiers learn to trust themselves, gain confidence, overcome fears, and, literally, climb out of their comfort zones," Henderson explained.

Henderson says rock climbing is helping Burgess to overcome his fear of heights and learn ways to cope with the anxiety he felt while climbing. It has helped to learn to not only trust himself, but the others around him as well.

"Any fear or anxiety can be managed if taken one step at a time. The Warrior Transition Unit is a great place and given an open mind and a little effort you can get a lot out of it," Burgess said.

When he's not rock climbing, Burgess is focused on getting back to the fight and climbing his career ladder.