By Sgt. Victor J. Ayala
210th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- An Army Reserve Soldier 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 Reserve Soldier 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 service member. 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 Reserve 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 ab 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. At the WTU, Almon was introduced to the therapeutic power of competition and adaptive sports. He claims he was inspired by a fellow Soldier who was involved in adaptive sports. It was here Almon was 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."