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    Steadfast, resilient, relentless

    Steadfast, resilient, relentless

    Photo By Michael Bottoms | Army Staff Sgt. Lauren Montoya was selected to carry the torch for Team SOCOM during...... read more read more

    COLORADO SPRINGS, CO, UNITED STATES

    06.04.2018

    Story by Michael Bottoms  

    U.S. Special Operations Command

    At five foot three, with piercing eyes, Army Staff Sgt. Lauren Montoya, carries herself as a serious, professional Soldier. In fact, when you see her walk in uniform you cannot tell she has a below the knee amputation and walks with a prosthetic.

    The Austin, Texas native joined the Army in January 2011 and trained to be a human intelligence collector. In 2013, Montoya joined a cultural support team and did her pre-deployment training with 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne). As a member of a CST, Montoya would engage with Afghanistan’s female and adolescent population. Eventually she would be assigned to a 7th SFG (A) operational detachment alpha team in southern Afghanistan in November 2013.

    “I had a great experience as a CST and was able to accomplish a great deal in the five month period that I was deployed. I was able to learn a lot from the ODA and develop into a better NCO and soldier,” Montoya said. “I was blessed to have unique experiences as a female Soldier prior to combat MOS’s (military occupational specialty) opening up and I carry myself with pride that I was part of a small collective of strong women to have done it before it was allowed.”

    On March 22, 2014 Montoya was conducting a reconnaissance mission for another team and on the way back to her firebase the truck she was operating in as a gunner rolled over a command detonated IED.

    “I remember the blast, and remember being pinned underneath a ton of equipment inside of the truck. I also remember climbing up and down a mountain earlier in the day,” said Montoya. “March 22nd is a day that I will never forget, but it is also the day that I was given another opportunity at life.”

    Initially she sustained a crushed heel bone, muscle and nerve damage to her foot and lower leg, a ruptured Achilles heel, and a mild traumatic brain injury. She was told by her first doctor when she returned to the United States that she would not be able to walk well again, let alone run or continue active duty service. She went through a year of limb salvage treatment to include nine surgeries on her foot. After a year of making very little progress to be able to walk, she decided to have an amputation surgery.

    She worked for two years with physical and occupational therapists to regain strength, her gait, and power to build herself back up physically and mentally. She describes her recovery as “steadfast, resilient, and relentless.”

    “My journey to recover was on and off for the first year, lots of surgeries and hospital stays, but once I had my amputation I never looked back. I underwent one revision surgery, but after a month of recovery I was able to walk and run.” said Montoya. “The adaptive sports program through the Care Coalition was instrumental in my recovery process. I was able to be part of a team again and meet people that were going through similar things, or had overcome them already. I was able to surround myself with positive influences that helped my life goals become reality. I was also fortunate enough to have family and friends that never let me lose sight of my goals and never let me believe that I was my injury and nothing more.”

    U.S. Special Operations Command’s Warrior Care Program (Care Coalition) whose mission is to provide special operations forces wounded, ill, or injured service members and their families advocacy after life changing events in order to navigate through recovery, rehabilitation, and reintegration as quickly as possible, strengthening SOF readiness helped retain Montoya in the Army. Montoya went through a medical evaluation board and was found fit for duty and is now stationed at MacDill Air Force Base working at USSOCOM Headquarters.

    “The Care Coalition was instrumental with my recovery. I have so much gratitude that the Care Coalition never questioned my ability to be part of the organization,” Montoya said. “They helped with medical appointments and making sure that my family was taken care of. They continue to be a shining light in my enduring recovery process.”

    Montoya will be participating in track, field, swimming, and seated volleyball in the 2018 Warrior Games. Founded in 2010, more than 250 U.S. military and international service members and veterans participate in the 2018 Warrior Games. The athletes will represent the U.S. Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Special Operations Command. Historically, the Warrior Games have also invited international partner nations, and this year, athletes from the United Kingdom Armed Forces, Australian Defence Force and the Canadian Armed Forces will compete. It will be the sixth time for athletes from the U.K., second time for athletes from Australia and the first time for the Canadian team.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 06.04.2018
    Date Posted: 06.04.2018 17:52
    Story ID: 279533
    Location: COLORADO SPRINGS, CO, US 

    Web Views: 110
    Downloads: 1

    PUBLIC DOMAIN