By John M. Rosenberg
Warrior Transition Command
WEST POINT, N.Y. (June 21, 2016) – It’s an all too common narrative among wounded, ill and injured service members— a Soldier is riding his or her motorcycle down a city street, or a rural stretch of highway, when a car inexplicably runs a stop sign or fails to yield, and the motorcycle rider is violently tossed from their bike, awakening, if at all, to find themselves with missing limbs. Transportation accidents, especially those involving motorcycles, routinely rank as one of the leading killers of U.S. service members.
While serving with the 82nd Airborne Division in 2013, Sgt. 1st Class Allan Armstrong had recently returned from a deployment in Afghanistan when he was riding along a highway outside of Columbia, South Carolina when a car ran a stop sign and struck the right side of his bike. Armstrong was sent tumbling into a field. Fortunately, medical attention soon arrived on the scene, but they were unable to save his right leg.
“I knew my life would never be the same again,” said Armstrong.
Nonetheless, while he was recovering in the hospital, Armstrong immediately went about planning his way forward. At first he was assigned to Warrior Transition Battalion, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, before being sent to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland, and then on to the WTB, Brooke Army Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, Texas in order to be closer to his family.
Armstrong appreciated everything that the WTBs had to offer. “It was a place where I could focus upon myself and my recovery,” said Armstrong. “They gave me the tools I needed, including introducing me to adaptive sports.”
As a contestant in the 2014 Department of Defense Warrior Games, Armstrong knew that he was forever hooked on adaptive sports. “Almost every activity grabbed me,” said Armstrong. During his high school years, the self-described Army brat excelled as a runner, saying “It wasn’t until my injury that I took up swimming and cycling in a big way.”
During the 2016 Warrior Games at United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, June 15-21, Armstrong participated in a number of sports as one of two Army athletes pursuing the Games’ Ultimate Champion award.
The Ultimate Champion is a pentathlon style event that pits warriors from each service against each other across select athletic challenges. At the end of the competition, the athlete with the most points is pronounced Ultimate Champion of the Warrior Games.
“Track is my strongest event,” said Armstrong, who medaled in five track events in which he was entered, winning one gold medal. Though new to swimming he also medaled at West Point’s Arvin Gym pool during Monday’s competition.
Armstrong firmly believes that adaptive sports helped him remain resilient. He also said the athletic activities taught him how to stand up for himself, and have given him tremendous self-confidence.
Still, every athlete needs the support of a team. “When I have a bad race time, or didn’t do well, my teammates come to my side,” said Armstrong. “Jumping into the swimming pool with all of my teammates, who give me encouragement and cheer me on…it means the world to me.”
Just as important, the Army electromagnetic spectrum manager says his WTB and adaptive sports pursuits have allowed him to remain on active duty status.
“There was definitely a lot of stress after my injury,” said Armstrong. “Doing sports has helped me get my mind off of the stress and to move ahead with my life, in a productive way. After I’m done with my training and my workouts, my mind becomes clear. My problem solving abilities are good and I can better understand my way forward.”
|Date Posted:||06.22.2016 23:21|
|Location:||WEST POINT, NY, US|
This work, Adaptive sports helps Army athlete plan his way forward, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.