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NEWS | March 13, 2018

Warrior Transition Battalion instructor becomes a Soldier in transition

By MaryTherese Griffin U.S. Army Warrior Care and Transition

U.S. Army Reserve Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Henao was once a part of the leadership at the Warrior Transition Battalion at Fort Stewart, Ga. Now, he is a Soldier in transition.

Henao was an instructor for the cadre course at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. All Soldiers who are assigned as cadre at one of the Army’s 14 WTBs take that course. Henao never really thought about being a Soldier the cadre supported until he was injured during a deployment to Saudi Arabia in 2016.

During physical training in a large field in Riyadh, Henao stepped wrong and he heard a loud pop. “My knee popped so loud everyone thought it was gunshot. I went down, said Henao. Henao tore his posterior crucial ligament in his right knee and the labrum in his right shoulder. He would need surgeries to repair the damage. How would this active soccer player get back into the active life?

As a Soldier in transition, no longer part of the staff or a cadre course instructor, Henao was required to make some mental adjustments.

“Being at the WTB was very difficult at first because it was so hard to adapt [to being a Soldier in transition],” Henao said.

Driven by his favorite motto, “The harder the sacrifice, the sweeter the victory,” he let the WTB do what it does best; let Soldiers heal and prepare them for their future whether in or out of the Army. That also includes encouraging Soldiers to participate in adaptive reconditioning activities and adaptive sports.

“At Fort Stewart, we had three teams play wheelchair basketball. I was horrible and frustrated at first, but it motivated me to get better. I can still remember my first hand cycle ride. It was five miles, but felt like 50. In three months I was able to complete a 60 mile Ride with Project Hero. I was relieved to transition back to the upright and now can compete century (100 mile) rides, said Henao. “

Henao plans to be released from active duty this April and finish his degree in sports management. He also hopes to secure a spot on Team Army for Warrior Games and Team US for the Invictus Games this fall. After recovering, Henao was assigned back on the staff side of the WTB and is currently the non-commissioned officer in charge of the adaptive reconditioning program at Fort Stewart. He not only talks the talk, he walks the walk, runs and rides.

“Adaptive Sports are the reason I am still here and the reason I continue to better myself,” said Henao.

Henao is competing in field, shooting, wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball, track and indoor rowing at the 2018 Army Trials. Whether he medals or not, Henao feels victorious thanks to the WTB.

“I am able to do more than what my mind tells me,” said Henao. “My body is capable of so much more than I ever thought. My limitations don’t define me, I’m the only one that can limit myself.”