Chasing the Team Army Opportunity
By MaryTherese Griffin, U.S. Army Warrior Care and Transition

FORT BRAGG, N.C., - U.S. Army Sgt. Michael Vaughn comes from a military family; his oldest brother is a Marine and his middle brother is in the Army.

"We are competitive," Vaughn says with a smile. Sgt. Vaughn loves to run, so it is no surprise he came in first place during the sprint races at the Adaptive Reconditioning Camp at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

"I love being a part of a team. It's why I joined the military," says Vaughn, who now has hopes of earning a spot on Team Army to compete at the 2020 Department of Defense Warrior Games in San Antonio, Texas.

Vaughn has had to overcome a lot at the Warrior Transition Battalion Fort Campbell, Kentucky where he was assigned after suffering mental trauma from personal issues while on deployment to Kuwait in April. The water treatment specialist tried to continue in his job, but he said he couldn't keep his head in the game. "It affected me mentally and it affected my whole work dynamic and that was not good." The situation worsened to a point that a doctor recommended he be medically evacuated.

"I thought I would get [medically evacuated] and go back to my unit and have to figure it out on my own. When I got to the WTB I saw people cared and that I could get the help I needed," Vaughn said. "The WTB really helps. As I talked to counselors, I started to open up more and I know I am where I need to be to get better."

The silent suffering is what most do not see. Vaughn never thought his personal problems would put him in a place to recover and overcome, but he is working toward returning to duty a better man. In the process of doing that he is opening up and exploring adaptive sports. Hence, his participation in the Adaptive Reconditioning Camp, which he learned about at the WTB.

"A few months ago I was like a turtle in a shell, but adaptive sports and the chance to possibly [compete at the DoD Warrior Games] is very therapeutic for me because it helps me open up, realize what I can do and builds my confidence again. This program is very unique, and helps Soldiers going through any type of trauma psychological or physical."

While at the camp, Vaughn has met new friends, swapped stories of recovery and now, shares this take away about leaving your Army job to go get better.

"You have to embrace the suck and hunt for the good stuff and the WTB is the good stuff you want to hunt for to get better."