2014 Invictus Games, September 10-14, London, United Kingdom

Spc. Arianette Diaz Ortiz: Charting her own success

By Annette P. Gomes, Warrior Care and Transition

Spc. Arianette Ortiz Diaz's dream of serving her country was cut short due to injury. Despite this setback, she's found a new way to serve and protect her country.
(Photo courtesy Arianette Ortiz Diaz)

Live. Love. Laugh. Three simple words Spc. Arianette Diaz Ortiz lives by. “You only live once so you might as well make the best of it! Live everyday as if it was your last one,” she said. ”It’s my signature post online and in all my emails.”

Born in Puerto Rico, Diaz has been living life to the fullest since the very beginning. Raised in a family with a history of military service, she set her sights on serving her country.

“Both of my grandfathers enlisted in the Army but I never had the opportunity to share it with them. My uncle was also part of the National Guard. They died before I enlisted,” she said. “After going through the 9/11 attacks and other things while I was growing up, I knew that after I finished with school I was going to enlist.”

Diaz Ortiz graduated from the University of Puerto Rico with a degree in Physical Therapy and two years later enlisted in the Army. After completing basic and advanced training, Diaz Ortiz began work as a Computer Network Specialist at Fort Shafter. A short time later, her dream of serving her country, was cut short.

During an eight mile training exercise, Diaz Ortiz injured her lower back and hip. Unaware of the severity of her injury, she continued to train and exercise. As the discomfort and pain continued, she sought medical treatment. A short time later, she was diagnosed with a labral tear on her right hip.

"I never thought I would be getting out of the Army due to a medical discharge. That was the last thing on my mind. When I decided to enlist, I thought I would at least be in for 10 years. When I got diagnosed, I was really angry at myself at first," she recalled. "I knew something was wrong with my body because it didn't feel right when I was running or doing different types of exercises. But I kept pushing myself because doctors couldn't identify my injury at the time."

After surgery, she recovered at Schofield Barracks Warrior Transition Battalion. She credits her healing to the use of adaptive reconditioning sports, namely swimming.

“When I'm in the water, I have a freedom of movement that I don't usually have on the ground. I am able to exercise all of my body and just having the opportunity to help others on improving their swimming skills, makes it so much more worth it,” she said.

“I was finally getting the therapy I really needed. It feels good to finally have access to a group of professionals that are trained to help soldiers with their injuries and behavioral issues, who need that special care to be able to have a smoother transition back into their civilian life or even back to active duty.” For Diaz Ortiz, remaining resilient, focused and optimistic is part of her every day recovery.

“I have always done things the hard way, because the hard way is more challenging. I have also learned to change my anger into positive energy. That has helped me to stay focused on my goals,” she explained. “I learned that everything in life has a purpose. When I have a goal, I keep myself focused on working towards it. I have good family and friend support back home. I keep God close to me, wherever I go, I know He is there.”

For now this future IT Specialist has found other ways to serve and protect her country. Diaz Ortiz plans to pursue another degree in Homeland Security with a minor in Emergency Management/ Cybersecurity. She hopes to work for the Federal Emergency Management (FEMA).

Warrior Care Month 2016

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Monday: November 14
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Wednesday: November 16
  • Hiring Heroes Career Fair
Thursday: November 17
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