By Jyremy Reid
ARLINGTON, Va. — Staff at the Fort Bragg Soldier Recovery Unit (SRU) in North Carolina are enhancing recovering Soldiers’ physical, mental, social and emotional well-being through an adaptive golf program.
This program offers Soldiers a moment in time where the only thing that matters is the challenge of hitting the golf ball in front of them. The 8-week-long program meets once at the same time for 2 hours each week. This provides the directors time to give instructions and get to know the individuals better.
Soldiers go through a physical assessment before moving to mobility training to help them accurately hit the golf balls. “Although they may have physical ailments, we do our best to help them work around those limitations,” said Brock White, director of the golf program. “The goal in this area is to help them feel like everyone else.”
Adaptive golf brings a sense of focus to the Soldiers. It encourages mental health by allowing them to think about something other than past traumatic experiences. “This program really helps them get out of their own heads,” White said.
The SRU helped a double-leg amputee learn how to play golf, as well as another veteran who was nearly blind. Ultimately, the adaptive golf program is helping Soldiers feel like everyone else.
“Our main focus is to figure out how each Soldier can successfully hit a golf ball no matter their limitation,” said White. “Once they finally succeed and that excitement comes out, they are officially hooked to do it again. If we can utilize golf for rehabilitation — not just the physical side, but the mental as well — it can completely change somebody’s life.”
Julian Mitchell, a retired veteran who suffered injury in Iraq during the Al Assad ballistic missile attack in January 2020, said the Fort Bragg SRU evaluated him for a traumatic brain injury. He said he “can’t say enough about Brock and his staff” for making programs like this available to help with his recovery.
“The staff helped me improve my balance, timing and build my confidence during my recovery in a short amount of time – not to mention accommod[ate] different handicaps and conditions,” he said.
It may take a Soldier several attempts to hit a golf ball correctly, but the SRU has technology to adjust the golf club length or any other equipment to meet the physical needs of every participant.
“That’s the unique part of this program,” added White. “It’s hard to put into words what it can actually do to help. One reason is because it’s a sport [the Soldiers] can play and continue to play no matter their physical limitations.”
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. Visit our website at https://arcp.army.mil