ARLINGTON, Va. — Soldiers at the Fort Drum and Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston Soldier Recovery Units are bowling as part of their adaptive reconditioning, and it is proving to be more than just a sporting activity.
Bowling is a way for Soldiers to relax and decrease social isolation. It also brings a sense of accomplishment – improving self-esteem and confidence.
Bowling is one example of the many adaptive reconditioning programs that SRUs offer. It is all part of the Army Recovery Care Program, which supports recovering Soldiers, their families and caregivers as they transition back to duty or to veteran status.
The program at the Fort Drum SRU, New York, started approximately five years ago. The SRU implemented preventative measures, such as wearing masks and using gloves when selecting bowling balls so that Soldiers could bowl during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Autumn Darling, adaptive reconditioning support specialist at the SRU, said that socialization is the program’s most significant benefit. The group meets most Fridays at lunchtime to enjoy a bite to eat and bowl. It’s an event where they can unwind and talk.
The Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston SRU, Texas, hosts their bowling program on Wednesday afternoons. The program had to completely shut down twice, but ultimately pressed forward through the COVID-19 pandemic.
The program helps Soldiers relax, forget their troubles and see that they can do everyday activities, Durham said. Bowling is a popular event and the participants get competitive at times. One particular group of Soldiers arrives early for practice rounds and still asks to continue bowling after the competitions. Durham reflects that she likes seeing the friendly competition.
Both Darling and Durham encourage Soldiers to give bowling a try. Durham notes the sport can be adapted and played throughout life. When it comes to adaptive sports, she tells Soldiers not to be fearful of trying new things, saying, “where there’s a will, there’s a way.”
“It’s about adapting and overcoming and we help Soldiers do that,” she said.