Editor’s note: These stories were produced by the Department of Defense and published here as part of a partnership with Military Times.
In the Army Recovery Care Program, Soldiers have one job…to get better.
Capt. Veronica Jones worried about having enough leave to be able enter a Soldier Recovery Unit (SRU) and take the time to recover from injuries from deployments and an underlying illness. She soon discovered that her job was to get better. And, she continued to receive her pay while completing her recovery.
“While I was demobilizing last year, I was referred for two surgeries. I needed disc surgery for my neck and pelvic floor surgery. I didn’t have that kind of leave saved up and I couldn’t afford to not be paid,” said the Lakota Helicopter Pilot in the National Guard.
“I had no idea what an SRU was,” said Jones who found herself at a waiting place for a while at Fort Bliss having just come off a deployment at the border. She says she almost declined care because she wanted to get home and take care of her family. Her father was newly diagnosed with aggressive cancer and her five-year-old son needed mental health therapy. When she got to Fort Riley which was the closest SRU to where she lived, she was glad she accepted what they had to offer.
“Something I’m grateful for is that the SRU treats the whole Soldier. I’ve received support for my family and Nurse Case Managers have spent hours helping me with my dad and his doctors.” Advice from the pros on what she should do for her dad was a gift to Jones. “I even received spiritual support that I needed with all that was happening with me and my family. I thank the Lord for these people. I needed to be reminded God is in control.”
Since June of 2022, Jones let go, and let God and the Fort Riley SRU guide her to recovery. After two surgeries and therapy, she doesn’t yet know if she will return to duty but the discovery of adapting in life has become her focus.
“When I learned about adaptive sports, I was very interested in attending the Army Adaptive Sports Camp at Fort Bragg,” said the now avid adaptive kayaker. It started when Jones learned how to adaptive-kayak, something she could do with her injuries. “Getting out on the water pedaling on the kayak was awesome. My husband and I thought, this is something we can do as a family. We all get to do something new together and we get to keep moving.”
Jones competed in multiple events from air rifle to wheelchair basketball and archery at the Army Adaptive Sports Camp and is hopeful to make Team Army to compete in Coronado, CA at the Warrior Games Challenge in June.
“Whether I make it to the games or not, I will be supporting all these Soldier Athletes. It’s been an amazing two weeks of discovering what we CAN do. That is our job too. Figuring out what we can do.”
Captain Jones did make the team! She will compete with 39 Soldier athletes on Team Army at the 2023 Warrior Games Challenge in Coronado California June 2-12th 2023.