Strength from the past

John Henderson

Cutline: Staff Sgt. John Henderson of Fort Bliss Warrior Transition Battalion (WTB). Henderson attributes his recovery to the Triad of Care he receives at the WTB, as well as the example set by his late step-father. (Photo courtesy Fort Bliss WTB)

By: John M. Rosenberg, Warrior Transition Command

It is human nature to turn to role models for clues and lessons on how to navigate life’s challenges. Wounded, ill and injured Soldiers can benefit greatly during the recovery process with support and encouragement from role models they have had in their life. In some cases, as with Staff Sgt. John Henderson, assigned to the Fort Bliss Warrior Transition Battalion (WTB), that role model may even be from the distant past.

Henderson grew up in Long Island, New York. Raised for a short time in part by his step-father, a Vietnam War Veteran, who made a lasting impression on him and taught him values he still holds dear. Though his step-father passed away when he was a young child, Henderson still credits him as the reason he decided to join the military.

“I saw in my step-father a deep loyalty, drive, a sense of honor and respect,” said Henderson. “Though he was with my family for only a short time, he remains instrumental to me to this day.”

Henderson enlisted in the U.S. Army at age 30, becoming a military policeman. He deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo and completed three tours to Iraq. It was during an assignment at Guantanamo Bay where Henderson severely injured his Achilles tendon and was subsequently assigned to the Fort Bliss WTB.

At the WTB Henderson “took the bull by the horns in accepting his new normal,” said Sandra Robinson, Fort Bliss WTB social services assistant. According to Robinson, Henderson entered the WTB accepting the challenges that lie ahead, saying, “If he was no longer going to be a Soldier, then he was going to be the best human being possible. He’s been an inspiration and motivation to the other Soldiers.”

Today’s wounded, ill and injured Soldiers have a myriad of people and programs available to enhance their recovery. Though Henderson laments being injured, he says a silver lining exists in the form of his Triad of Care at the WTB. “All my medical needs are being met at the WTB,” says Henderson. However, even with his needs being met, the teachings of his step-father, his role model, also played a large part in his recovery.

“My step-father,” says Henderson, “gave me the drive to continue on regardless of my injuries, to maintain that level of excellence, and to never give up.”

Upon leaving the WTB and the Army, Henderson is looking forward to resuming his career as a law enforcement professional in New York, then plans to retire in El Paso, Texas.

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