Editor’s note: These stories were produced by the Department of Defense and published here as part of a partnership with Military Times.
As an Army Medic, Staff Sgt. Jewel Lewis saw a lot. Her scenery changed last October when she was assigned to the Soldier Recovery Unit (SRU) in San Antonio, Texas after medical issues including a PTSD diagnosis.
“The Army saw fit for me to take this time and really recover and focus,” said Lewis who said she never knew the SRU existed until she needed it.
“I had no idea whatsoever. I wish more people in the Army who have wounds or illnesses knew about this program. I’ve been in the Army for 8 years and never heard of the Soldier Recovery Unit.”
Like many before her, she instantly went to a dark place when she thought her future in the Army could be in jeopardy because she wasn’t functioning as a whole Soldier.
“In the beginning I thought it was the end for me coming to the SRU however I’m now thinking it’s a start. I get a chance to start over you know, to get better and start over.”
Part of that starting over in the SRU includes keeping busy to help take their minds off their problems and setbacks but also to help keep working toward goals. “You need to take advantage of everything they offer in the SRU, it really helps. Even when you may think you don’t want to, you will be glad you did,” said the avid athlete who praised the programs available, especially adaptive sports.
Lewis found adaptive sports helpful in her recovery process. She tried out and made Team Army and will compete at the 2023 Warrior Games Challenge in San Diego, Calif. in June.
“It’s an absolute honor to be selected to Team Army. It’s a second opportunity to work as a team.”
The teamwork begins now, individually while they are training for California. Workouts, working with their SRU’s, trainers and staying in touch with teammates is part of the daily grind. Lewis is thrilled the recovery process in the SRU is inclusive of her Team Army appointment.
“The cadre at the SRU is very supportive and helps me tremendously. I could not be more appreciative of that,” said the medic on the move who has medaling on her mind as she envisions the competition in California.
“I’m really looking forward to powerlifting! I can already tell a big difference since the beginning of the year. Consistency is key and I have to push myself. I love to test my capability and my strength.”
Besides having the strength to recover and overcome plus train to be at the top of her game on Team Army, Lewis is expanding her horizons in the medical field.
“My goal is to Return to Duty, get my nursing degree and actually be an ER nurse in the military.”
She says she knows everyone’s situation is different but the one thing all Soldiers have in common at the SRU is opportunity. After that it’s up to their will.
“It works if you are determined to make it work. As you go through the process in the ARCP you will have staff help you through the process, but you have to be determined to heal and get better.”