ARLINGTON, Va. — To say that Lt. Anna Walker's recovery at the Fort Carson Soldier Recovery Unit (SRU) has been a difficult one would be a major understatement. What started as a broken leg from a skiing accident seemed to keep getting worse and worse, eventually requiring multiple surgeries due to repeated infections.
But although it's been a long journey for Walker, she's powered through it — and the experience has made her stronger than ever, thanks in part to the people who helped her every step of the way at her SRU.
It all started in January 2020, when Walker was skiing in Keystone, Colo., just a month before her scheduled deployment. She was racing with her friend when she suddenly found she couldn't control her speed. She saw a cliff approaching and sat down in an attempt to stop herself, but went over it anyway.
At first, her injuries didn't seem like that big of a deal to her. She had endured a compound fracture in her leg, but she had gotten treatment and expected it would eventually heal. However, a month later she found that her injuries had in fact been more extensive than that: she had broken six ribs, her lower back, her pelvis, and other places.
But her woes didn't stop there. Bacteria started causing infections, and soon Walker was having surgery after surgery to deal with the new problems. At that point, her planned deployment was a distant memory, and she was on her way to the Fort Carson SRU in August 2020 to begin her recovery.
At that time, the COVID-19 shutdown was in full effect, and all activities had been moved online. Walker found the peaceful setting at the SRU relaxing, and exactly what she needed while learning how to walk and still going through surgeries. "It was nice for me to lay down and rest," she said.
As COVID restrictions started to relax, Walker began going to formation. At that point, she was starting to get a bit stronger and was able to walk with a cane. She got involved in activities like wheelchair basketball and rock-climbing — activities similar to what she was doing before her injury. By March 2021, she was even doing mountain biking.
The Fort Carson SRU, and SRUs like it, tailor their programs to the Soldiers under their care. They offer a wide range of sports and therapeutic activities so that the Soldier can focus on recovering. After all, at an SRU, a recovering Soldier has one job, and only one job: to heal.
Her recovery in full swing, Walker is now looking forward to her civilian life. She hopes to get a career in finance, and expects to finish her master's degree in December 2022 with a major in accounting.
"I'm in full-time active duty with my old unit, but I'm doing a different job [than finance]," she said. "But by January, I'll be doing budgets."
Walker said the most important thing the SRU gave her during this difficult time in her life was positivity thanks to the people around her.
"The SRU was very important to me," she said. "The other people there, they motivate me to continue getting better. The SRU instructors are very positive in trying to push you into getting better and pushing you to be your normal self before the accident. I really appreciated that."
The Army Warrior Care and Transition Program is now the Army Recovery Care Program. Although the name has changed, the mission remains the same: to provide quality complex case management to the Army's wounded, ill and injured Soldiers. www.arcp.army.mil