COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – An Army reservist drills two days a
month and trains for two weeks every year. He or she leads a life
outside of the uniform, works a civilian job and is often seen as
leading a largely civilian life. The Army reservist may spend more
time in jeans than Army greens but is instilled with the same
discipline, training and sense of duty as any other uniformed
Army Reserve Spc. Quitarious Almon runs alongside fellow Team Army competitors during track and field practice May 7, 2013. Almon,
along with 49 other Army wounded warriors, represented the Army in
the 2013 Warrior Games. (U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. Yves-Marie Daley)
And when the call goes out to deploy and serve, they head off to
face the same enemies, risks and challenges as any other service
member. For Army reservist Spc. Quintarious Almon, the realities of
serving in the face of adversity and the challenges of adapting to
injury are a matter of daily life. The Anniston, Ala., and member of
the 143rd Sustainment Command headquartered in Orlando, Fla., is
competing in the 2013 Warrior Games to show fellow service members
that injury is a conquerable adversary.
Injured in a vehicle
accident while on leave from his Afghanistan deployment in 2010,
Almon suffered a traumatic brain injury that resulted in vision and
memory loss and an anxiety disorder. He was cleared to return to his
unit in Afghanistan, where he served another six months. After it
was discovered he suffered vision and memory loss, he was given
light duty and was later evaluated by a neurologist who ordered him
returned to the United States for treatment.
He was assigned to the Warrior Transition Unit on Fort Benning,
Ga., for treatment of his head injury from 2010 to 2011 where he was
introduced to the therapeutic power of competition and adaptive
sports by a fellow Soldier. He was further introduced to the Warrior
Games, which were established to represent the valuable Warrior Care
and Transition Program that heals and transitions soldiers back into
the Army or their communities with dignity and self-determination.
Almon ended up trying out for the competition and went on to compete
in the 2012 Warrior Games.
He says his progress is great,
though he still faces challenges.
As a reservist leading both a military and civilian life,
Almon was rocked by the injury twice over. He was offered a
football scholarship to Tuskegee University in Alabama
before his deployment and had to decline it for fear of
worsening his condition. According to Almon his education at
Jefferson State Community College has been more challenging
since the injury.
“Remembering what I'm taught in
class is harder now if I don't read things on my own or have
a study aid,” he said. “I notice my grades have slipped a
little, and I get panic attacks. I get nervous and real
excited. In my major, you have to remember so many things,
things you learned a year ago. Most days, I can't remember
what I had for breakfast.”
Almon said he won't let his injury beat him. He plans to
complete a four-year degree in sports medicine as well as compete in
the Army World Class Athlete Program. He hopes that his
participation in the 2013 Warrior Games will inspire fellow wounded,
ill or injured Soldiers to improve their situations and fight for
the life they deserve after recovery.
“I've seen it too many
times,” said Almon. “I've seen a lot of people use their injuries as
a crutch or excuse. But I've also seen people stronger after their
injury, people who saw their injury as another obstacle to overcome.
You don't want to be stuck where you were at the time of injury.
These injuries probably weren't supposed to happen to you but they
did and you have to overcome them and adjust.”
By U.S. Army Sgt. Victor J. Ayala
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