By Emily Anderson, WTC Stratcom
Recently I had the pleasure of speaking with AW2 Soldier and Operation Warfighter Intern 1LT Dana Summons who recently started working at the Warrior Transition Command in the adaptive reconditioning branch. He has 18 years of military service and takes full advantage of the different opportunities made available. I’m inspired by his positivity and courage. Most of all, I wanted to know why Summons feels it is important to share his story.
“The Army has given and invested so much in training me,” Summons said. “I currently have a bachelor’s degree in arts and history and am also working to complete an associate’s degree in project management.”
During our conversation, he credited the six domains of the Comprehensive Transition Plan in helping with his journey to recovery. The Comprehensive Transition Plan is a systematic framework that allows wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers to customize their recovery plan across six domains—career, physical, emotional, social, family and spiritual.
“I can clearly see how important the six domains are in my life,” Summons said. “For example, working at my internship has been therapeutic for me. It has helped with my physical domain because I have to get back and forth on the metro, but also the social [domain], because I’m interacting with individuals again.”
On October 4, 2010, while deployed to Kandahar with the 101st Airborne, 3rd Brigade, Summons stepped on a dismounted, pressure-plated Improvised Explosive Device. The blast threw him 10 feet into the air.
“Smoke was everywhere, my ears were ringing, and I heard someone yelling ‘the LT’s been hit, the LT’s been hit,’ Summons said. “I knew there was only one other LT there, and I saw her running around, checking on her Soldiers.”
“As the smoke cleared, I turned my head to look at my right shoulder, and that’s when I saw my foot there. My left leg was across my chest,” Summons added. “All I could think was, oh boy, his is really going to hurt.”
A 19-year-old medic told the squad leader to grasp the artery in Summons’s right arm where shrapnel had embedded into his shoulder.
“If the medic had not known to do this, I would have lost my arm,” Summons said. “I credit him with saving my arm, and my life.”
Two years and 14 surgeries later, Summons shares his positive message and his faith to help other wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers.
“When I was healing and going through my recovery process, my mental state was at the lowest point. I had to readjust, and I didn’t know how to transition to the new normal,” he said. “I have always believed in a spiritual being, but going through this really strengthened my faith.”
“I want others to know that life goes on, and it’s possible to fulfill hopes and dreams even with physical limitations,” Summons added. “Someone can always benefit from your story.”
Summons’ Operation Warfighter (OWF) internship landed him in the Warrior Transition Command adaptive reconditioning branch. This office is responsible for aiding in the recovery of our wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers by reconditioning their physical, emotional, mental, and cognitive states through adaptive activities.
“It’s great to have Soldiers who have gone through similar life changes working at our organization,” said LTC Keith Williams, WTC adaptive reconditioning branch chief. “We can’t expect other organizations to hire our wounded, ill, and injured if we are not willing to do the same.”
“LT Summons is doing a fantastic job so far, and I look forward to the insight he can give us to better help our population,” Williams added.
While Summons is still waiting for a final decision to see if he is able to continue his military career, or is found unable to continue, he said he wants others going through similar situations to learn from his experience.
“I had to learn how to walk again, but I didn’t let that stop me. I mean, look at me now. It’s two years later and I’m living a very happy life,” Summons said.