Soldiers realize resilience through ARP

Captain Todd Adams, Fort Campbell Warrior Transition Battalion, practices archery during an Adaptive Reconditioning Program session. Adams, who is competing in archery, and Sgt. Michael Cavoto, competing in archery, air rifle, and discus and shotput field events, are the active-duty Soldiers who are representing Fort Campbell. They are joined by, two medically-retired Fort Campbell Soldier athletes Staff Sgt. Alexander Shaw and Staff Sgt. Thomas Ayers, who have both competed in at the Department of Defense Warrior Games.

Fort Campbell Warrior Transition Battalion’s Capt. Todd Adams is among some 100 active duty and medically-retired Soldier athletes who are competing in the Army Trials this week at Fort Bliss, Texas.

“I am very proud to have been given this opportunity,” Adams said before leaving Fort Campbell to attend the Army Trials. “I have been practicing daily and am looking forward the games.”

Competitors came together from Warrior Transition Units across the nation for the Army Trials. Adams, who is competing in archery, and Sgt. Michael Cavoto, competing in archery, air rifle, and discus and shotput field events, are the active-duty Soldiers who are representing Fort Campbell. They are joined by, two medically-retired Fort Campbell Soldier athletes Staff Sgt. Alexander Shaw and Staff Sgt. Thomas Ayers, who have both competed in previous Department of Defense Warrior Games.

Army Trials and DOD Warrior Games feature adaptive sporting events that are individual or team-oriented, and include archery, air rifle and pistol, cycling, sitting volleyball, wheelchair basketball, swimming and track and field events including discus and shotput.

By week’s end the group of competitors will be reduced to 45, who will go on to represent Team Army at the DOD Warrior Games in June at West Point, New York.

Although competitive, the Army Trials and DOD Warrior Games illustrate the resilience of our nation’s wounded, ill and injured Soldiers, and veterans, who have faced battles with traumatic injuries or severe illnesses head on and through support of the Army’s Adaptive Reconditioning Program have found new ways to remain active.

At Fort Campbell WTB, some 60 Soldiers participate in ARP, said Robyn Womac, adaptive sports site coordinator.

“The Adaptive Reconditioning Program is set up to enable Soldiers to remain active throughout their transition in this battalion, either back to active duty or out of the service,” said Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Rutledge, noncommissioned officer in charge of ARP at WTB.

Adams, who has been at Fort Campbell’s WTB since August, has found the program beneficial to his recovery process.

“The Adaptive Reconditioning Program has allowed me to still be competitive, prior to being injured I competed in triathlons,” he said. “The desire to challenge myself and enjoy some friendly competition is just part of who I am.”

Adams said that he first picked up a bow in church camp when he was 10, but did not purchase his first hunting bow until arrived at Fort Campbell in 2012. Working with ARP staff and Coach Art Petit, archery instructor for Fort Campbell Morale, Welfare and Recreation, helped him hone his shooting skills.

“When I first watched him he was doing some stuff wrong,” Petit said. “I just helped him a little bit – he was doing a lot of right stuff.”

Petit enjoys working with Fort Campbell’s WTB Soldiers and sharing his more than 50 years of archery knowledge, or simply lending an ear when a Soldier just needs to talk.

“I’ve won all kinds of big tournaments, but I can’t do it anymore because of my age. If I can make them good shooters, that’s my goal. I want to make these guys really good. It’s very rewarding,” he said. “Some of these guys come [to see me] before they go over into the war zone, they say ‘see ya, old man.’ And when they come back some of them have problems and they come down and talk to me – I’m a lucky man.”

Rutledge has witnessed firsthand the benefits of ARP. Soldiers and cadre of Fort Campbell’s WTB train year-round for the annual Bluegrass Rendezvous, which is a two-day 167-mile bike ride from Fort Knox to Fort Campbell.

“It’s a great opportunity to get out and help Soldiers, help enable them because when you first tell them they are going to go out and ride 100 miles the first day [from Fort Knox to Bowling Green] immediately they think that’s not possible,” he said. “But as we work with them they build up their confidence. It’s rewarding to see them being able to get back out there, improve and accomplish it.”

ARP is in place to help Soldiers “disprove their theory of ‘Oh, I can’t do that,’’ Rutledge added. “Here it is all about showing them what they can do.”