FORT BELVOIR, Va.- Sgt First Class Saul Sierra joined the Army 29 years ago. He’s seen a lot and incurred a lot of damage over the years to his body. In April of 2022, he did a little more damage that caused him to halt what he was doing. “I was at Ft Bliss, and I suffered an injury to my shoulder. I was lifting and tore my supraspinatus.”
The Puerto Rico National Guardsman had surgery and went on to the Fort Campbell Soldier Recovery Unit.” My Treatment has been good. They’ve been taking good care of me. Plus, the different programs were terrific. I didn’t know you could do all these things in adaptive reconditioning.”
He knew about the adaptive sports aspect of adaptive reconditioning from another Soldier. He decided to try wheelchair rugby at a camp in Ft. Belvoir, Virginia. “My fiancé told me to come in and try the wheelchair rugby because she was here last year and went to the Warrior games on Team Army.” His fiancé, Sgt Finlahy Cortez, a member of Team Army, played on the wheelchair rugby team last year at the Warrior Games Challenge.
“She told me it’s a little bit crazy and hectic, and you have to be motivated 200% to compete. I followed her journey last year and was so proud of her. Trust me; I know I have big shoes to fill. Finlay did so great last year – every time she sends me a message, she tells me to give it my all.”
He gives it his all on the court and in the SRU as he prepares for his future after the Army. “The Army Recovery Care Program is like a one-stop shop for getting well for a Soldier. Besides helping me to recover physically, through the CER program, they are helping me build a federal resume and prepare for internships, and they are trying to secure a management course for me.”
Along with those preparations for his future, Sierra has his sights set on a spot on Team Army this year. He will compete for the honor at Fort Liberty, North Carolina, during the 2024 Army Trials in March. “I would be super proud to have Team Army worn on my chest at the Warrior Games in Orlando, and I know my fiancé would be super proud, too.”
Sierra is proud to share his journey through the Army and recovery and wants younger Soldiers to know the SRU is an invaluable tool. “Don’t deny the care they are offering you. Take advantage and get better.”