Staff Sgt. William Ruffin: New Beginnings
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. William Ruffin (Far left) and Sgt. Christopher Keach, Fort Bragg, prepare for their time trial cycling events during the cycling events at the Regional Health Command Atlantic 2016 Warrior Games Regional Trials, at Lawson Army Airfield, on Fort Benning, Ga., October 31, 2016. (Photo Credit: Courtesy, Staff Sgt. Brian Kohl)
By Annette Gomes, Warrior Care and Transition
Staff Sgt. William Ruffin isn't interested in looking in the past but focused on the future.
Ruffin injured his right knee in October 2014 during physical training while assigned as a member of the cadre at the Fort Eustis, Va. Warrior Transition Unit.
After a year and a half of rehabilitation and physical therapy, his knee did not improve, he accepted the setback and thus became a Soldier in transition.
Determined to heal and prepare for the future, he began participating in multiple adaptive reconditioning activities including cycling, archery and wheelchair basketball at the Fort Bragg WTU, a place he says changed his life.
"The adaptive reconditioning program has helped me in so many ways. It gave me that extra push on those down and painful days," Ruffin said. "There were physical changes, I lost 15 plus pounds, and the activities provided a mental sanctuary and a sense of peace. I see comrades who are worse off than myself and I see them push and improve on a daily basis. This motivates me in ways they don't know."
But while some believe entering a WTU is the end of a career, Ruffin sees it as a new beginning.
I believe you have two kinds of people in this world, those who know and those who don't know. For those who don't know what adaptive reconditioning is, they don't know what being a part of a team and something bigger than themselves means," Ruffin said. "The WTU is definitely not the end of your career, it's the beginning of a new life, a fresh start to a new career. There are so many opportunities that will and would be missed if you or anyone continues with the mindset that things are over."
The Maryland native says for now he has sights set on helping his fellow Soldiers as he transitions.
"My interest in being a part of the adaptive reconditioning program comes from wanting to continue to be a part of a team. A team not just for myself, but for those past, present and future warriors who transition. Helping and assisting with the program we have here at Fort Bragg, has shown me so much more to adaptive reconditioning," Ruffin said. "Watching Soldiers from the beginning as they arrive and as they go through their transition…to see them transform from not being interested in any activities to being involved in multiple. The support, bonds, encouragement and friendships that are built in the AR program are irreplaceable."
Ruffin hopes to join the adaptive reconditioning program as a coordinator one day, but for now he is training hard to try to earn a spot on Team Army for the 2018 Warrior Games.