ARLINGTON, Va. — To say life has changed significantly for Pfc. Dylan Buckler would be an understatement. Due to a medical condition, he had to let go of his dreams of service in special operations — but thanks in part to the staff at the Fort Drum Soldier Recovery Unit (SRU) in New York, he has a new mission.
It all started in August 2021 when Buckler, a Vermont National Guardsman, arrived at the SRU. He had spent the previous nine months serving in South Korea, where doctors diagnosed him with a chronic condition. From South Korea to the SRU, Buckler endured a journey of pain.
"It's kind of hard to put into words," Buckler said. "It was a lot of suffering. [In South Korea] they didn't have an actual gastrologist so I was going to a primary care doctor who did not specialize in the issue. I was in a hopeless state trying to push through it all, because I had dreams of special operations and to watch it all come down kind of hurt me."
Now that he was able to focus on his recovery at the SRU, he began to think about what he might do next with his military career cut short. He gained an interest in electronics and manufacturing, and began to dream of opening his own chip manufacturing business in his home state of Michigan.
But he needed to take the first step and start his career. And that's where SRU staff put him in touch with a program that hooked him up with two weeks of training combined with eight weeks of internship at a computer chip manufacturing business.
Now, he's well on his way to a new career, working as a manufacturing technician and preparing to take on the profession full-time. The company has given him a strong indication that they plan to keep him after the internship ends in mid-March, he said.
As for his long-term dream of owning a business, Buckler is taking it one step at a time.
"I just want to get my foot in the door and see how much of a possibility that is," he said.
Buckler credits several SRU staffers who helped him with the logistics of participating in the program. "They essentially figured out what I needed to do, when I needed to do it and how I needed to do it," he said.
As far as what advice he would offer to other Soldiers going through an SRU for the first time, Buckler said it's best to have a backup plan.
"Even if you're not planning on getting out [of the military], you may get told you're going to have to get out," he said. "I didn't want to get out, but I'm having to choose a difficult option."
Recovering Soldiers should reach out to SRU staff for help with that, he added.
"A lot of people don't know these things exist or they don't really look for it," he said. "It's easy to say, ‘plan and prepare,’ but it's difficult when you don't know what's out there."
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