FALLS CHURCH, Va.- After being in Poland for a year-and-a-half-long rotation with the Army, Sgt. 1st Class Jeremy Tanksley reluctantly made a side trip to the Fort Bliss Soldier Recovery Unit (SRU) instead of going home.
“I had no idea what an SRU was; I found out while at FT Bliss, where I was sent. I walked in and was taken aback. I had my own room and personal space to decompress and recuperate. I was very surprised at the type of facility this was. All the care they offer and the team helping was great,” said the radar operator for field artillery.
Tanksley had a slap tear in his shoulder from all the heavy lifting with his job a few months before his time in Poland was up. He worked through the pain and just wanted to go home but discovered visiting the SRU first was a game-changer.
“I would strongly encourage Soldiers to take advantage of the SRU. I understand why many don’t want to because they could be separated from their family- you know, people are already gone like I was for 18 months, and I just wanted to go home from my deployment. I suggest doing it because it gets entered into your medical records, and that’s important. It’s all documented, plus Soldiers get immediate care provided to them, so you don’t have to figure it out. The Army will try to help the best they can, but you have to be willing to let them.”
The Army National Guardsman was more than willing, especially when he learned he could transfer to an SRU closer to home. The Joint Base Lewis Mc Chord SRU was his final stop as it’s closer to his home in Washington State. Through physical therapy and commitment, Tanksley persevered.
“My range of motion has gotten better through therapy, so surgery was not necessary. I’m not 100% yet, but I’m working on it. I can tell when I do too much. I have to learn how to do things differently. This process taught me that some discomfort is okay. You have to find the place where you are and figure out how to move but not injure yourself further. I have to work to continue to improve.,” said Tanksley.
He’s taken this new way of movement and put it to extra good use through adaptive sports. Tanksley competed for Team Army at the 2023 Department of Defense Warrior Games Challenge in San Diego last June.
“That experience was amazing. Being able to be on Team Army and compete this summer at the Warrior Games challenge was a full-circle moment for me. I was at Coronado with the Army about 15 years ago. I was a different person back then, and things weren’t going so well in my life. I ended up getting into some trouble, and I thought it was the last time I would ever be at Coronado. So fast forward, things have changed, and I have changed, and I was back there being able to prove myself in a positive way.”
Tanksley says learning to adapt through the Army Recovery Care Program can be the most positive thing to happen to any Soldier, but he stresses they must commit to wanting help from the SRU. He says even the words Medical Board should not keep Soldiers away and to take the help.
“Don’t miss out on an opportunity to stay in the Army. The SRU can and will help you return to duty if possible. If an injured or ill Soldier decides not to take advantage of the SRU, they are missing a lot of opportunities.