Army Injury shapes desire to give back after transition out
FORT BLISS, Texas – U.S. Army Spc. Brooke Conley has always known she wanted to work in medicine. Naturally, Conley became a medic when she joined the Army, but in 2014 the one who wanted to provide the medical care became the one who needed it.
During a training exercise in South Korea, Conley injured her neck when her fifty pound ruck sack came off the frame. “The ruck sack rolled onto my neck and flipped me around with all my weight with the ruck sack landing on my neck,” Conley said.
Afterward, she was diagnosed with cervical spinal degeneration. The pain was so debilitating she had radio frequency ablation, or RFA, to numb the nerves sending the pain signals to the brain. Conley’s ribs also dislocates from her spine occasionally because of the injury.
The Warrior Transition Battalion at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii is where Conley began to get her life back.
“I knew at the WTB they would focus on my medical care,” said Conley.
Even though she will be medically retiring later this spring, Conley feels she still has a duty to her fellow Soldiers. Conley has plans to one day open a ranch in Montana to help those in need of physical or mental recovery and also offer an intensive Wounded Warrior therapy program.
“When I got to the WTB and saw their therapy program, it encouraged me to add physical therapy programs to my idea for my healing ranch.”
Conley plans to return home to California to care for her disabled mother and finish her psychology degree after the Army. She also hopes she will be training to compete in the Department of Defense Warrior Games.
“[Competing at Warrior Games] would mean a lot to me because if I have the experience, I can incorporate that into my therapy program for Soldiers.”
She also wants to be a mentor at future Warrior Games.
Conley will compete this week in swimming, archery, shooting, sitting volleyball, wheelchair basketball and cycling. Pushing through her pain makes her focus even more on her plans for her healing ranch in Montana. The married mother of a one and a half year old daughter has a few words of encouragement she shares with fellow athletes.
“Dance like no one is watching…because you have to live for yourself live in the moment and not care what other people think. Especially when you have injuries you have to keep pushing through. You have to do the things you love. If you can’t do the things you love, then what’s life about?”
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