How the Army outfits wounded Soldiers for life after recovery.

By MaryTherese GriffinJanuary 2, 2024

How the Army outfits wounded Soldiers for life after recovery.
Adaptive Sports equipment like wheelchairs for rugby and basketball are just a portion of the supply chain that Soldiers in recovery use to thrive into their future as they overcome a wound, injury, or illness. (Photo Credit: MaryTherese Griffin) VIEW ORIGINAL

FALLS CHURCH, Va.- There are many moving parts to the Army Recovery Care Program (ARCP), not the least of which is Adaptive Reconditioning. This includes equipment and logistics for Soldiers who want to recover and overcome their wounds, injury, or illness. “Part of our job is to help coaches, logistics folks, etc., work together to ensure our units and Soldiers have the best equipment available to use. That includes big events, like Army Trials and Warrior Games,” said Chris Uggiano, the Program Manager and Sports Director for the Adaptive Reconditioning Program for ARCP.

Equipment for Soldiers at the Soldier Recovery Units (SRUs) doesn’t just stop with sports. “We need to make sure there’s enough equipment available to the Soldiers who can participate in adaptive events like rowing, swimming, cycling, or events for further recovery beyond sports like learning to play guitar or painting. We need to be sure we can introduce the Soldier to new things, whether it's adaptive sports or another therapeutic form of therapy, so that they can function further in life beyond the SRU,” said Uggiano at a recent Adaptive Reconditioning Summit at Fort Belvoir, Virginia.

In the Adaptive Sports world, Uggiano explained that Soldiers do not have to have any sporting expertise as a positive tool for recovery, just the desire to learn and improve. There is an order in which to achieve the experience.

“Army Trials, for example, is not the place for someone to be on the bike for the first time,” says Uggiano. “We started educating at the unit level many years ago so the Soldiers understand what the equipment does, how to use it properly.

He says this is a year-round daily process with educational opportunities for good reason. “Proper maintenance and safety are also super important. Safety is our number one priority with our athletes. Not only for the equipment user but for the people around the equipment. It has to be running at its best and have the most optimum functions.”

Also, at the recent summit, leadership shared what it means to have the right people in the right positions at the right time for the sake of the Soldiers. “This is government equipment, and we need to make sure it's handled properly, but more importantly, it's about the athlete and assuring them that their equipment will arrive at the event ready to go. The worst case for us is that an athlete has to drop an event or can't participate in something they trained so hard for because something happened to their equipment.”

Uggiano is clear: the Army Recovery Care Program has many opportunities to recover and overcome. The SRUs provide equipment for different sports and activities and replace them when they break or exceed their lifecycle. From A to Z, equipping a Soldier in recovery is always top of mind in ARCP. “Having the right strings and right strap on a guitar so a Soldier can make beautiful music or the cyclist who has the right tubes and the right tires and the bike maintained so they can go for a 15-mile ride or even a five-mile bike ride with their family. We must have the right equipment for the best use for our Soldiers.”

Uggiano says the Adaptive Reconditioning Program allows positive results to continue after the Soldier leaves an SRU. “To me, it's not about the Soldier. It’s about that person becoming the best father, mother, wife, husband, or all-around best person in all aspects of life. We are getting them prepared for life after the SRU.”