FALLS CHURCH, Va. - No Soldier wants to hear they are being medically retired or med-boarded. There is often the notion that if you are a wounded, ill or injured Soldier and a med-board is underway, your career is automatically over. Not true. Master Sgt. Christopher Diaz-Rose is living proof.
Last year, the Senior Aviation Maintenance Supervisor had a medical set back before reaching his next assignment. “Prior to my arrival in Korea I had a pulmonary embolism. They don’t really know what caused it, but the standard procedure was to put me on blood thinner for six months to deal with the symptoms, but they went away. I’m just a higher risk now.”
He says the doctor he had in Korea insisted he stay on blood thinner for the rest of his life and gave him no other options. A med-board was immediately started, and he transferred in November 2022 to the Soldier Recovery Unit at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington.
“I was not enthused about it as I just made Master Sgt. and I want to become a 1st Sgt, so this was like hammering nails into the coffin of my 17-year Army Career,” said Diaz-Rose. He’s not alone in his trepidation upon arrival at an SRU. Most Soldiers are unsure at first of what opportunities are afforded to them through the Army Recovery Care Program. As Diaz-Rose discovered, there are avenues of hope and help within the SRU.
“I wanted other opinions, and they were definitely supportive at the SRU of helping me when I got there. Everyone was willing to listen to my case and help me out. From the Nurse Case Manager to the Social Workers and the Liaisons, they all truly helped me.”
He did get that secondary medical opinion which led to a new lease on life. “They got my second opinion with a pulmonologist at Madigan he said it’s standard to have me on blood thinners but that the choice was up to me. When I said I feel fine have had no more issues and I want my Army Career they stopped the med-board right there.”
He is on the “Return to Duty” track and was assigned to a local aviation unit in Washington. He serves as the operations Sgt. for the 169th attack battalion. “Hopefully by the end of the year I can find a permanent position as a 1st Sgt. here and be able to retire at the 1st Sgt. level like I always planned.”
His advice for Soldiers with similar situations is to explore all options and don’t give up. “Ask the questions and make it clear what your goals are. Look for the backup options and the support.”