Water Therapy for Injured War Veterans

Lieutenant Colonel Chip Pierce
Lieutenant Colonel Chip Pierce
Stephen Schwartzengraber
Stephen Schwartzengraber

KAPOLEI (KHNL) -- Injured war veterans with Tripler Army Medical Center's Warrior Transition Unit face a long road towards recovery. But Friday, they got a chance to get away from the hospital. A local water park provides a different type of therapy.

Families flock to the Hawaiian Waters Adventure Park for some aquatic fun. In the mix are injured war veterans, who were invited by the park.

Stephen Schwartzengraber is one of them. He was doing security detail in Iraq when he was targeted.

"I got shot by a sniper in my hip," said the 18-year-old private first class from Alaska. "It was a .762 round. It hit my hip, went through my nerve and ricocheted off my pelvis and went up my colon and large and small intestines."

He has to walk with a cane because his leg is still weak, but he fights every day to get stronger.

"I received really good care," said Schwartzengraber. "Tripler and my whole unit, from the physical therapists, from the doctors, from all of them."

That's why events like this, where they get a change to get out of the hospital, are good for morale and help with the recovery process. And it's a way for soldiers to enjoy some time with their families.

"Things like this bring them and their families together, and helps them integrate family to family, soldier to soldier, and with the folks around them," said Lieutenant Colonel Chip Pierce, troop commander at Tripler Army Medical Center.

As Schwartzengraber tries to get his mind off his injuries, he still thinks about the soldiers serving in Iraq.

"Definitely all my prayers go out to all my buddies that are still over there right now because my unit is still out there right now," he said.

Tripler Army Medical Center Warrior Transition Unit is one of 38 recovery centers across the country.