ARLINGTON, Va. — Army Medicine leadership lavished praise on the 14 Soldier Recovery Units (SRUs) throughout the United States during the 2021 Army Recovery Care Program (ARCP) Leaders Summit for managing the COVID-19 pandemic while serving 773 wounded, ill and injured Soldiers in the process.
"Despite a global pandemic, you've executed the mission with excellence," said Lt. Gen. R. Scott Dingle, the Surgeon General and Commanding General of United States Army Medical Command.
During 2021, the 14 SRUs offered Soldiers 2,197 adaptive reconditioning activities, which 773 Soldiers participated in. There were a total of 6,667 Soldier engagements in adaptive reconditioning programs throughout the year, which led to a round of applause during the summit.
Dingle also praised the ARCP's Career and Education Readiness (CER) division for their work in helping Soldiers transition to civilian life.
"They worked diligently throughout the pandemic to help our recovering Soldiers land internships, secure career opportunities and pursue their entrepreneurial dreams," he said. "Our ARCP transition coordinator teammates, our recovery care coordinators, our nurse case managers, our incoming SRU commanders and other team members throughout the program, you found ways to continue training throughout the pandemic, and ensured the workforce was equipped to serve our Soldiers."
Dingle said that while much of the focus in the Army — and the military in general — is on those who fight on the field of battle, ARCP team members are unsung heroes who take care of Soldiers and their family members in ways that have a tremendous impact beyond what is immediately obvious.
"Each of you all on the ARCP team and family truly know the essence of ... what the impacts of combat do to our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines, because you are on the receiving end of that as part of the triad of care that ensures our Soldiers really are taken care of," Dingle said. "It's not a glorified position. It often goes unthanked. So I want to thank you up front."
Command Sgt. Maj. Diamond D. Hough said the ARCP team was an inspiration to him personally.
"When I think about your mission, it's everything I joined the Army for," Hough said. "At the core of what a non-commissioned officer does is care and welfare of our Soldiers, and you do that at the highest level as your core mission.
"The first time I walked into an SRU," he continued, "the first time I went to a Warrior Game, and I saw the energy and effort and expertise that had been put into our recovering warriors, and the way they were moving forward with their lives because of the work you do with no excuses — I left there and I told my current boss I will never make another excuse. That's the impact you've had on me for years, and I'm not alone."
Command Sgt. Maj. Jennifer Francis thanked “all the leaders who take care of our customers and their families,” noting that ARCP policymakers value all aspects of their feedback to make positive change.
“This mission is a complex but fruitful one,” she said. “This operating environment requires genuine care and concern for people that, if done correctly, equals readiness. Again, we thank you for all you do and look forward to our ongoing communication to develop great changes in future policy.”
Col. Myron B. McDaniels, ARCP Deputy Chief of Staff, praised the SRUs for all of the work they do for Soldiers in their care.
"No one is more deserving of recognition than the individuals who work tirelessly for Soldiers and their families at each of the Army's 14 SRUs,” he said. “Their hard work shows in the lives of our wounded, ill and injured Soldiers. Every day, we are grateful for their service."
Dingle addressed the fact that COVID-19 forced the cancellation of the 2021 DoD Warrior Games, which was a disappointment but he believes it was ultimately the right call.
"Having been to the last five Warrior Games, it was a tough decision," he said. "The first thing that came to my mind is I wanted to ensure first and foremost that our athletes and families were going to be protected."
However, he pointed to the success of the adaptive sports virtual challenge, where 23 Army athletes competed against members of sister services and allied nations, taking home 1st place in 41 events, 2nd place in 12 events, and 3rd place in 10 events. He also noted that Army athletes performed exceptionally well at the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo.
At the end of their remarks, Dingle and Hough presented awards to the SRUs and their members for their work over the past year. Here are the recipients of the 2021 ARCP Cadre Awards:
Squad leader: Staff Sgt. Keisha Henshaw (Fort Hood)
Platoon sergeant: Staff Sgt. Carlos Delgado (Fort Hood)
Nurse case manager: Ms. Christi Higgins (Fort Riley)
Primary care manager: Dr. Neel Shah (Fort Drum)
Social work: Ms. Annette Brown (Fort Carson)
Occupational therapy: Ms. Amanda Helm (Fort Hood)
Physical therapy: Dr. Matthew Stehr (Fort Drum)
Human resources: Capt. William Brod (Fort Drum)
Patient administration specialist: Sgt. Tanya Caleron (Fort Drum)
Transition coordinator: Mr. Anthony Thomas (Fort Hood)
Management analyst: Ms. Brittany Puente (Fort Carson)
Chaplain: Capt. Gary Sands (Fort Hood)
Advocate of the year: Mr. Michael Lopez (Fort Drum)
Best Soldier Recovery Unit: Fort Carson