ARLINGTON, Va. — Much like the infamous often quoted line from the 1995 film Apollo 13, “Failure is not an option” for Staff Sgt. Jessica Haddix. Determined to follow in her sister’s footsteps, Haddix joined the military during her junior year of high school through the Delayed Entry Program – also known as the Delayed Enlistment Program or Future Soldiers Program in the Army.
“My older sister joined the Army and I remember she came home in shape and strong. I just had a daughter and I looked at her and said, ‘if my sister can do it, so can I.’ I walked to the recruiter station and joined the military,” Haddix said.
The rest as they say is history. During her 15-year career, Haddix held a myriad of positions from a Carpentry and Masonry Specialist with the Louisiana Army National Guard to a Motor Transport Operator, positions which helped to shape her into the person she is today.
“I have traveled and participated in training and events that make you realize what your total purpose is for being in a great organization like the Army,” Haddix said. “I have also developed life skills to help me develop as an individual.”
Haddix found herself having to rely on those skills sooner than she thought. On May 21, 2019 during a recreational softball game in Kuwait, Haddix dislocated her ankle.
“I didn’t expect [the injury] to happen at all, but a lot of things went through my head. I was mainly thinking about my career moving forward and returning to duty. I wanted to become a Warrant Officer,” Haddix said.
After having surgery in Germany, Haddix was transferred to the Army Recovery Care Program’s Warrior Transition Battalion at Fort Bliss, Texas, and was later admitted to the Critical Care Unit at Fort Hood, Texas.
“They let me know what the WTB was about; rehabilitating Soldiers for their next step in life whether transitioning out to the civilian sector or transitioning back into the military lifestyle and duties,” Haddix said. “The people who worked there were all concerned with the well-being of each Soldier and wanted to help. They looked out for our best interest which included our health and rehabilitation.”
Haddix says her journey was filled with uncertainty.
“I would ask myself, ‘Why did you go to that game that day? ‘What if you are not able to walk the same again? ‘What happens from here if you have to get out of the military?” Haddix recalled. “At this point, reality started to sink in. However, the therapist, social workers, and transition coordinator provided information and encouragement to assure me that everything was going to be fine.”
Haddix began participating in adaptive sports during her time recovering at Fort Hood. The adaptive reconditioning program gave her something else to work toward and aided the social element of her recovery.
“The Adaptive Reconditioning Program gave me a release and helped me encourage others. It also allowed me to hear stories and victories from others who participated in this program,” Haddix said.
Although the injury and recovery time forced Haddix to delay her career plans, she has been cleared to return to duty this month as a Human Resource Specialist.
“Although this was a setback, it didn’t mean that I was supposed to stop. It challenged me to keep going because life is not always predictable. This experience forced me to adapt and overcome,” Haddix said. “It’s hard to say what you would do until an injury happens to you, but if that time comes, will you give up or keep pushing and striving? I say keep striving.”
The Warrior Care and Transition Program is now the Army Recovery Care Program. Although the name has changed, the mission remains the same: to provide quality complex case management to the Army’s wounded, ill and injured Soldiers.