Paintball helps recovering Soldier build confidence and Return to Duty
By MaryTherese Griffin, U.S. Army Warrior Care and Transition

ARLINGTON, Va. - When you are trying your best to "get it together," "build your confidence," get "back in the saddle again"...maybe try paintball wars? U.S. Army Spc. Tara Lugo was unaware of the 3-85th Warrior Transition Battalion at Fort Drum, New York until she found herself headed there from Germany on November 5, 2018 to focus on her treatment and recovery.

"I have noticed that a lot of Soldiers do not know the Army [has WTBs for Soldiers to recover] and I wish more people knew," Lugo said. "I was surprised to find out about all of the services WTBs offer to include education benefits and internships."

Lugo, a native of Livingston Manor, New York, discovered adaptive reconditioning and one particular activity that came as a surprise. "I never tried paintball before, I was surprised by how fun the event was," Lugo said. "For my competitive nature, I enjoyed the games during paintball, especially capture the flag. This kind of event is important and makes [Soldiers in transition] feel part of a team and build morale."

Morale building and confidence boosting are two key areas that adaptive reconditioning activities at any of the Army's 14 Warrior Transition Battalions help Soldiers in transition. According to Lugo, a paintball competition can be more than just for fun and provide an easier way to help someone come out of their shell. "Paintball was beneficial to my treatment due to the fact that it placed me outside my comfort zone. I had to be vocal with my teammates and it helped my confidence." Lugo will be using that confidence boost from paintball and her time at the WTB as she returns to duty.

"I recently have been cleared to return to duty. I am pending orders to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington and it is a good thing I enjoy the rain over the snow," Lugo said with a chuckle.

Lugo credits the many facets of adaptive reconditioning and the cadre at the WTB that work with Soldiers to overcome their physical, mental, and behavioral health challenges for ultimately getting her life and career back on track.

"The WTB worked with me to get me ready and mission capable. They were extremely patient with me and I'm thankful for what they did for me."