ARLINGTON, Va. — This September, Fort Carson Soldier Recovery Unit Soldier Lt. Col. Kyle Eldridge competes in archery, cycling and precision air sport rifle at the Department of Defense Warrior Games in Orlando, Florida.
For him, the experience combines a long-held passion and a new focus on training that is energizing his recovery — and he got a little help from dedicated SRU personnel, innovative equipment and state-of-the-art facilities.
Eldridge is passionate about archery. Before being diagnosed with a brain tumor and undergoing surgery he competed in the first stage of the 2019 Olympic Trials archery events. Two years later he is on Team Army and it has shifted his attention.
“Training for the Warrior Games events has allowed me to focus on my training rather than my injuries,” Eldridge shares. “I am very competitive [and] have noticed the more I focus on my sports, the more motivated I am for my recovery, and the better I feel overall.”
The Fort Carson SRU in Colorado provides Eldridge access to well-equipped training facilities and dedicated performance coaches. His overall goal is to train for two to three hours a day, five days a week. It’s a major opportunity.
“That experience alone has been phenomenal,” he said.
Eldridge had to earn his place on Team Army through competing in Army Trials, which was held this past spring. He underwent arm surgery six weeks prior to Army Trials and had to learn to shoot archery bows with his mouth and opposite hand. He said that while his body may be limited, he believes you can do anything if you focus and work hard enough.
Eldridge logged significant miles riding on a recumbent bike to keep weight off of his upper body. Months later, he progressed to riding upright in an altitude chamber with the elevation set at 1,004 feet. His nerves and muscles trained at a higher rate of speed and more oxygen flowed into his lungs and leg muscles, explained Marc Cattapan, adaptive reconditioning support specialist at the Fort Carson SRU.
Eldridge reflected that none of this would have been possible if not for the support of his family and community.
“It was so uplifting to see everyone push beyond their comfort zones to accomplish their goals!” Eldridge said. “It truly was an inspiration for me, as well as my family, to see this amazing community of men and women who sacrificed so much for this country to continue to fight against overwhelming odds.”
Eldridge urged those who are considering trying out to go for it.
“I would tell them to absolutely do it,” he said.
Events like Warrior Games show military personnel and civilians the perseverance of our military service members, and that wounded and ill Soldiers are capable of amazing things, Eldridge said.
Cattapan sees this portrayed through adaptive sports and personified in Eldridge.
“Adaptive sports provides a window to view the power of the human spirit,” he said. “We witness this grit and determination in Lt. Col. Eldridge as he harnesses his internal power to rehabilitate and overcome adversity.”