Returning to Play


For nine wounded warriors in the Soldier Recovery Unit from Fort Campbell, Kentucky, transitioning to civilian life recently involved a unique rehabilitation method—pickleball. The Veterans faced off with other pickleball enthusiasts during the unit’s pickleball clinic and tournament at the Retreat Fitness Center in Sun City in November.

Soldier Travis Berthold’s first time playing pickleball was “a lot more fun than I thought it would be. Being able to participate in sports and have that competitive edge, it’s been helpful both mentally and physically.” 

Fort Campbell Soldier Recovery Unit participants Travis Berthold and Luke Ellison play pickleball at the Retreat Fitness Center in Sun City as part of the rehabilitation program for wounded soldiers.

Travis’ experience has been Robyn Womac-Fortin’s goal as adaptive sports recreation therapist with the Fort Campbell Soldier Recovery Unit. “It’s not just the physical aspect of healing, but emotional and mental healing,” she says. “These veterans are in the lowest of lows when they come to us. They think they can’t do this or that. Our job is to tell them, ‘yes you can. You can do sports like disc golf or pickleball.’ ”

A Salado native, Robyn organized the Fort Campbell Soldier Recovery Unit’s first annual week of therapeutic activities across Central Texas. Veterans enjoyed activities like yoga, glassblowing, and barbecue in Salado, disc golf in Leander, bingo in Austin, and a basketball game in Waco. “It’s been nothing but smiles all week long,” she says. “It’s something I expect they’ll remember the rest of their lives.”