FORT DRUM, New York (January 15, 2021) – Persistence is defined as the ability to do something despite obstacles or delays in achieving success. A practical example is the 1st Lt. Thomas Vincent, who recovered for almost a year from a serious car accident in November 2019 and sustained multiple injuries.

Before talking about his accident and recovery, it’s important to understand where Vincent is from and what his motivations are. As an infantry officer, Vincent grew up in Marshfield, Massachusetts, where he decided to serve his country in the armed forces at a young age.

“I read the book Lone Survivor as a kid, the story of Marcus Luttrell,” he said. “And that’s the way I started wanting to be a Navy SEAL.”

But he understood that achieving his goal would require hard work and dedication.

“That changed me,” he added. At the time: “I didn’t train a lot and wasn’t particularly active. I just played video games the whole time. “

Knowing that he had to work hard and get in shape, Vincent changed his lifestyle. In high school, he thought the best way to do this would be to join the toughest sport in his school, wrestling.

“It was really tough,” said Vincent. “If I couldn’t survive wrestling, I couldn’t survive SEAL (Basic Underwater Demolition School) training. As simple as that. “

But he survived. While initially struggling with the sport, Vincent continued to work hard, improving his skills and never giving up. His time on the wrestling team would teach him the value of hard work and perseverance.

“Then I started applying to military academies,” he said.

After spending some time in a post-high school prep program, Vincent followed in his uncle’s footsteps when he was inducted into the US Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) in Kings Point, New York. USMMA graduates are expected to serve either five years in the US shipping industry with eight years as reserve officers or five years of active service with one of the country’s armed forces.

“It wasn’t an easy school,” said Vincent of the USMMA. “I learned a lot from the Merchant Marine Academy about how to be a good officer.”

Then it was time to decide what to do after graduation. Following his goals to become a Navy SEAL, he went through the evaluation and selection of SEAL officers. Unfortunately he was not selected. After taking the time to ponder his options, he decided to serve as an officer in the army.

“I honestly wanted to join the army because there were jobs I wanted to do in the army,” explained Vincent. “I submitted my application for the Army and started taking Army Training at the Merchant Marine Academy. After graduation, I was hired as an infantry officer. “

After graduation and commissioning, Vincent completed training as an infantry officer in the infantry basic officer leadership course, followed by training at the US Army Ranger School, before being transferred to Fort Drum, New York.

Upon arriving at Fort Drum, Vincent became a platoon leader in 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry). Almost immediately, his unit began to train for use. They conducted platoon, company and battalion live fire drills before participating in the division’s Mountain Peak exercise. Then she went to Fort Polk, Louisiana to train at the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC). After completing his JRTC rotation, he was returning home when an accident occurred on November 11, 2019.

“When I finished JRTC, I went home and crashed like the next day,” he said. “I think the conditions were absolutely terrible. I turned right, slipped, and hit the guardrail across the street. “

“I slid out so the driver’s door was facing my oncoming traffic,” added Vincent. “Then I was hit by a truck and it hit me so hard that I ricocheted off and hit the other guardrail. After that, my car was completely destroyed. “

The condition of his vehicle was so serious that rescue workers had to remove the roof of the car to get Vincent out of the vehicle. As soon as he was free, rescue workers transported him to the Samaritan Medical Center (SMC) in Watertown, New York. At SMC, medical staff found that Vincent’s injuries were too severe to be treated and decided to transport Vincent to the Upstate Medical University hospital in Syracuse, New York.

“They tried to fly me, but I think the conditions were so bad that they couldn’t make a flight. So they just drove me (in an ambulance), ”Vincent said. “My diaphragm tore and I was bleeding from inside. They pumped me with blood all the way through. “

Vincent’s injuries from the accident were extensive. He suffered a compound fracture in his left leg, a broken right ankle, all ribs broken on the left side, a torn diaphragm, a collapsed lung, a broken pelvis, and a traumatic brain injury or TBI.

While he was still in the hospital, Vincent was reassigned to the Fort Drum Soldier Recovery Unit (SRU), then the Warrior Transition Unit, to manage his recovery supplies. The SRU is specifically designed to provide care for injured, sick and wounded soldiers by providing case management for the established conditions for healing while promoting timely return to service or successful transition to civilian veteran.

“We facilitate the healing and care of soldiers at a very difficult time in their life,” said Captain Phil Axelrod, the SRU’s head of operations. “The SRUs give wounded, sick, and injured soldiers the opportunity to recover while they focus on their recovery and family.”

Over nearly a year, Vincent’s recovery would take him from New York to another rehab facility in Massachusetts and back to Fort Drum. All the while he worked tirelessly to recover and was determined to return to duty as soon as possible.

“I didn’t know how bad it was for me,” he said of his injuries. “For me, I was obviously going back. There’s no way around it. I had nothing on my mind like ‘that’s it’. “

However, there were times when the continuation of his military career was questioned. Even so, he never stopped working to heal his body and mind, even when there was talk of transition specialists about preparing for the transition to civilian life.

“You had meetings with me about when I got off, here is something you should know,” Vincent recalled. “I said I don’t know why you’re wasting your time. I will go back. “

During his recovery period, Vincent would continue to overcome obstacles and continuously improve. Several times a week he shared his progress with his group leader and nurse case manager at SRU in Fort Drum to make sure they knew exactly where he was in his recovery and that he was improving.

“The key to success is really the time and attention we can devote to each soldier,” said Axelrod. “We are fortunate to have a large cadre / staff-to-patient ratio, which means any support that individual needs may have is readily available and readily available.”

That attention helped Vincent return to work instead of leaving the army at the end of his year-long journey to recovery.

“It was all positive,” said Vincent of his interactions with his SRU group leader and the nurse’s case manager. “You want to make sure the soldier gets where he wants and achieves his goals. So I made my goal pretty clear. I want to stay in and get back to my unit. “

During his recovery period, he refused to quit and continued to strive to improve both physically and mentally. His hard work and perseverance would pay off. After almost a year at SRU, Vincent was logged off as operational again.

Before Vincent was officially back on duty, Vincent was working in his unit’s human resources office, or S1, as it is called in the army, to get back on his feet and show his fellow soldiers that he is ready to return.

As I waited for the paperwork to be cleared and for the official return to service notification to be received, he said, “I knew I was going to get bored.” He thought, “I should just go to my unit and work in the S1 store just to let my unit know that I’m better and that I’m here mentally.”

Vincent has been back at work since late November and now that he’s back he’s looking forward to being part of a company again and pursuing his goals.

“Being part of a company is in a way like being part of a small family,” he said. “And I still have goals that I want to achieve. The same goals I had before the accident are the same goals I have now. It didn’t affect me. “

Vincent wants other soldiers who may find themselves in a similar situation to know that the point is not to get back into combat right away. It takes time to heal, and patience in recovery is key, which Vincent learned the hard way.

“Unfortunately, I went overboard and developed a stress fracture in my leg,” he explained. “So I had to be patient and not work as hard as possible as quickly as possible.”

In addition to his hard work during recovery, Vincent attributes his recovery to the commitment of the SRU staff.

“We can be reached at any time of the day or night,” said Axelrod. “We’re always here to motivate and motivate them to get back into combat through rigorous adaptive overhaul and physical training. We’re always here to help you find your new normal as you grapple with life changing injuries. “

Additionally, Vincent wants people to know that when they recover, it’s not just the visible injuries that they need to worry about. It is also these invisible, hard-to-spot injuries that often go unnoticed.

“The TBI was a big one,” said Vincent. “I didn’t quite understand how bad it was. Because you don’t know If you break your leg, you will see how you get better. But when you stop remembering things, it becomes harder for you to understand. “

For other soldiers who may face a situation similar to Vincent’s, Axelrod wants them to know the importance of never giving up, no matter how dire the situation may be.

“No matter how rocky the road is, how difficult the journey may be, never give up,” explained Axelrod. “You’re not alone.”

Recording date: January 15, 2021
Release Date: 01/15/2021 10:57 am
Story ID: 387035
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