FALLS CHURCH, Va.- "My adult mindset has been the Army. I was in ROTC and contracted with the Army when I was 18. I planned on doing my contract for about ten years and then hoped to enter Federal Law Enforcement. But when I found a Civil Affairs job at Ft Liberty, it made me want to stay doing it because it was perfect for me, so I worked for 12 years in the Army. I said to my wife, it's going to take a major life event to get me out of this Army," said the Special Operations Governance Officer.
Army Major Kevin May, who started a new assignment at Fort Stewart, Georgia, in July of 2021, was hit by a truck just outside the base while on his motorcycle. He was on his way home from work.
"A car in the opposite lane hit a truck; that truck lost control, crossed over a couple of lanes, and the truck hit me." He was in a medically induced coma for two weeks.
"My left side took the majority of the injuries. I broke my left patella, my femur, in a couple of places, had an open book fracture on my pelvis, lacerated my liver, ruptured my bladder, had a slap tear in my shoulder, and back injuries too," said "K-May" as he is called. He also had a break in his left wrist.
"Here's the fun part, and I don't know why my wife hasn't left me yet," he says with a laugh. "I was driving home from work to take my wife out for her birthday when I got hit. She also happened to be nine months pregnant with our second child. She gave birth to him at Wynn Hospital while I was at Memorial. So, I was coming out of my coma when he was being born. We both entered this world at the same time," said the father of two.
At 32, he would begin a recovery process that included 17 surgeries within that first year and a half.
When it came to going to the Soldier Recovery Unit (SRU), he knew being medically retired from the Army was not a popular phrase to hear, and this was a big reason Soldiers didn't want to go.
"I was familiar with the SRU coming from Fort Liberty because we had a big one there. When I learned they were moving me to Ft Stewart SRU, close to where I now live, I tried to resist it. I thought it was a pit stop where they usher you out of the Army. I kept thinking no way- there's still some chicken left on these bones. Let me get back in the fight."
May entered the Fort Stewart SRU in November of 2021. He now knows that the SRU can help in both instances, whether you Return to Duty or Medically retire. He said he is most thankful for their help with his medical retirement, something he would not have wanted to go through alone.
"I was trying my hardest to get back to duty, but there were complications with one of my surgeries. My left leg still doesn't bend. They broke my kneecap again, which had complications including a MERSA infection." He wasn't sure if he would lose his leg, but through another procedure and antibiotics, he could keep his leg.
Getting back to being a dad was his number one priority, and he says Ft. Stewart SRU helped him with that.
"One of my favorite things about the SRU is their adaptive reconditioning program, which is recreational therapy. I didn't realize it was a thing, but it helped me." While in his wheelchair, he learned about adaptive equipment and tried them all to return to doing what he loved. "I learned I can still actually enjoy things again."
Change happens. You adjust, or you don't, according to May, who puts his opinion about the Army Recovery Care Program out front for any Soldier to see.
"Embrace the SRU. This program is to help you get better. That's your only job whether you stay in or get out. They put so many resources in front of us and gave us time. Like the rest of the Army, they ask you to commit. That's how I got back to being able to walk again. I had to learn to walk twice in this process."
"I have an optimistic and bright outlook on my life and future. I can do anything if given proper time. Luckily, I got picked up as a fellow for the Special Operators Transition Foundation. It's a non-profit that started up at Fort Liberty a few years ago. I work with a business coach on interview training and securing interviews for me."
Finding the silver lining these last two years has kept K-May a shining example to others: the light is at the end of the tunnel.
"If you find yourself in an SRU, life is not going the way you wanted to begin with, so it's really easy to fall into a pattern of desperation. They (The SRU) try to provide recreation, trips, and more to help keep you busy and mobile. Embrace it!"