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Face of Defense: Injured Cyclist Supports Transitioning Soldiers

By Lori Newman Brooke Army Medical Center

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JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO, Texas, Dec. 2, 2015 — Soldiers assigned to Brooke Army Medical Center’s Warrior Transition Battalion here often have to deal with more than just the business of soldiering. Many deal with chronic pain and medical appointments along with their daily routine.

Army Sgt. 1st Class Samantha Goldenstein, the WTB reception noncommissioned officer in charge, understands this better than most.

Goldenstein suffers from femoroacetabular impingement, a condition that affects her hip joints.

“I’ve been a warrior in transition, so I understand the frustration soldiers experience when they are trying to heal and all the other stuff they have to deal with on a daily basis,” Goldenstein said.

According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, femoroacetabular impingement, or FAI, is a condition where the bones of the hip are abnormally shaped. Because they do not fit together perfectly, the hipbones rub against each other and cause damage to the joint.

“My hips are pretty much destroyed at this point,” Goldenstein said. “I’ve had two surgeries already and the doctors told me I will need total hip replacement in the future.”

Adaptive Sports Program

Once an avid long-distance runner, adaptive cycling helped Goldenstein fill a void and reduce her pain.

“I did a couple of trips with Ride to Recovery and really got into cycling,” she said. “That was my jumpstart into the adaptive sports realm.”

Goldenstein became an adaptive sports site coordinator at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.

“It was a good fit because of my fitness background,” she explained. She has a bachelor’s degree in exercise physiology and nutrition from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Goldenstein and Army veteran Dave Smith currently run the adaptive cycling program here.

Army Capt. Michael Rash said he appreciates Goldenstein’s dedication and guidance.

“She’s focused on the cycling performance, teaching us how to stay in our lines or how to do certain things while we are cycling,” Rash said. “She inspires you, keeps you going and keeps pushing you.”

Rash received internal injuries from a bomb blast in 2007, and since then he hasn’t been able to do the things he did before his injury.

“I couldn’t run, do push-ups or sit-ups, after the injury,” he said. “Riding bike has changed my life. I was able to get back out and get physically active; doing something besides sitting and gaining weight from not being able to be active.”

Rash said other wounded service members inspire him. He gave an example of a recent ride he was on where the weather conditions were very poor and he was hurting badly.

“A quad amputee riding an upright bike rode past me. I told myself, ‘If that guy can do this, I’ve got to do this.’ It’s seeing people like that who inspire me to keep going,” he said.

Rash has participated in multiple training events with Goldenstein as part of the WTB here. He said he also enjoys the social aspect of cycling and interacting with other injured service members.

“I may not always understand their injuries,” Goldenstein said, “but they know I’m not just this random person asking them jump on a bike and ride.”

The soldiers cycle about two hours Tuesdays and Thursdays. Most trips are about 20 miles, but a couple of days a month the group goes on longer rides of 40 miles or more.