ARLINGTON, Va. — If you're in Colorado and see Soldiers enjoying a plate of pierogies while talking about golfing around the world, you may have encountered a group from the Fort Carson Soldier Recovery Unit (SRU) on one of their latest international adventures.
No, they haven’t left the confines of the Centennial State, at least physically. But that doesn’t stop them from exploring both the cuisines and the golf courses of the world through a program that helps Soldiers at the SRU in their recovery journey.
Last winter, staff at the Fort Carson SRU launched an indoor golf program that involved using simulators and golf instructors to help recovering Soldiers learn to play the game during the cold winter months. But it’s evolved since then to include a tour of international cuisine after their golfing sessions. As a result, Soldiers can play on a golf course in Wales while sampling the finest food Poland has to offer without leaving the general area.
Maj. Jen Windsor, who came to the SRU last June, is one of the program participants who hadn't played golf in the last couple of years due to her injuries, which required several surgeries.
"I wanted to see if I could do it and correct my form," she said. "It's been great. It exceeded my expectations. The instructor is awesome. I had some surgeries on my arm that he identified as the reason I hit straight right all the time, and we're working on how to adapt so I can swing the club right."
The indoor golf program itself is a six-week course that began Feb. 11 and meets for an hour each Friday, continuing through most of March. Marc Cattapan, adaptive reconditioning support specialist at the SRU, hopes they will qualify for a grant to extend the program even further than that. But at the very least, it will take them close to the warmer spring months when they can start going outdoors to golf.
The golf coach does a five-minute warmup with the group and goes into a swing analysis so he can help improve their game while figuring out how to best adapt it to their abilities. The simulator uses radar and cameras, and participants can play on any course in the world. Sometimes, they have competitions, Cattapan said.
“It’s a great opportunity for people who love to golf and want to keep golfing,” Cattapan said. “I think this is good for those who are recovering and love golf to get out of their heads as far as their medical situation. And there’s a lot of camaraderie.”
It’s vital to the mental and physical health of Soldiers to have opportunities like this where they can explore the world around them. That’s why they decided to add the element of meeting up for lunch to experience a new authentic cuisine after each outing. First they met up at a new Brazilian cafe, then they tried out pierogies at a Polish restaurant, and next they plan to visit a French eatery.
“It’s different from the day-to-day activities,” he said. “It’s easy to get bogged down when you’re sick and ill, but when you’re out and about socializing and doing adventurous new things, it really helps break up that mindset,” he said.
Windsor said the lunch outings just kind of happened.
"It was definitely not planned," Windsor said. "After the first session, we randomly decided to go to lunch. There were a bunch of different food places around, so we decided to have lunch each time, which is nice because it's good for camaraderie."
The program itself was a boon for Windsor, not just in terms of helping her play golf again but in changing her outlook on life.
"At first I was discouraged, like I can't do anything anymore," Windsor said. "Now I know there's a world of possibilities 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