Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

From Recovery to Resilience: Navy Service Member Shares His Story

Image of Two people with a shotput. Navy recovering service member shares his recovery journey, and how adaptive sports encouraged him physically and mentally. (Photo: Roger Wollenberg)

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care

Navy Chief Petty Officer John “Blake” Conley spent weeks preparing to make the Navy Wounded Warrior Team

With the help and support of Navy Wounded Warrior and Warrior Care’s Military Adaptive Sports Program (MASP), he will be competing in the upcoming 2022 Warrior Games.

Blake’s wounded warrior journey began in July 2019, when he experienced strong migraines and bad reactions with his medication within one month. After receiving an MRI, he was told there was a mass in his brain. Blake shared, “I was only 35 years old, so I wasn’t expecting to have cancer.”

Sharing the overwhelming news with his family, they decided to make a cross country move. Blake explained, “I did my neurosurgery in Pearl Harbor, they removed a four square inch mass out of my left frontal lobe. Then we moved to Walter Reed, that’s where my wife’s family is located, and it was easier to get help with our children during this time. Having a support system from my family has been awesome.”

A year after finishing his chemotherapy, Blake has now taken control of his recovery and is participating more in adaptive sports and reconditioning activities with his family support.

“I’ve been trying to incorporate these kinds of activities with the kids, and we’re able to have fun and get out a little bit more,” Blake shared. Creating goals has allowed Blake to remain focused and motivated to try out for the Navy’s Wounded Warrior Team and compete at the 2022 Warrior Games.

Navy Wounded Warrior offers programs and services across the country. In May 2020, Blake started participating in the MASP program at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, where adaptive sports and reconditioning activities are an integral part of the recovery program.

“I went through chemo during the COVID shutdown,” continued Blake. “It’s a very untypical Navy life for me, I’m used to having friends at my command, but I didn’t have that. My last day of chemo was in February 2021.”

“Currently, I am stationed at Navy Warrior Transition Company at Walter Reed,” Blake stated. “I’m also temporary additional duty for Navy Wounded Warrior and fulfill the role of a non-medical care manager.” “It’s an important part of reintegration and very rewarding being able to help people enroll and get the support they need to be successful,” Blake shared.

As an active participant in military adaptive sports programs, “this was something that helped me get out the house, be active, and meet people," he said. "It’s cathartic to talk to other service members who are going through troubling conditions and pass on positivity."

For Blake, it’s a privilege to be on the Navy team at the Warrior Games.

“To represent all the other wounded warriors and what they’ve gone through in their struggle, meet new people from different branches, it’ll be really cool.”

Moving beyond his cancer has been very rewarding, he said.

“My family and I can get out a little bit more," he said.

"I hope from my experience that my kids realize that if you stay positive you can get through anything. Also, what kids are going to turn down Disney?”

The 2022 Warrior Games will take place at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida from August 19-28. To participate in Warrior Care's Military Adaptive Sports Program, visit the MASP webpage. To learn more about Navy Wounded Warrior visit their homepage.

You also may be interested in...

Horse Therapy Helps Wounded Service Members Find "New Normal"

Article
9/13/2022
Horse on left with ARNG Spc. Yesenia Flores, at an equine therapy program used by Fort Campbell's Soldier Recovery Unit.

Horse therapy is one way Fort Campbell wounded soldiers move toward recovery.

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care

Return to Duty: An SRU Soldier's Story of Recovery and Resiliency

Article Around MHS
9/12/2022
Fort Stewart Soldier Recovery Unit insignia

Capt. Viola Howard, an Iron Guardian at the Fort Stewart Soldier Recovery Unit, injured herself during her tour of duty in Germany and was transferred to Fort Stewart She set her mind to recover, rehabilitate, rebuild and ultimately return to active duty.

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care

Unexpected Friendly Rivals

Article
8/24/2022
A woman helps a person lifting weights

The Brooke Army Medical Center Soldier Recovery Unit is more than where support for wounded, ill, and injured soldiers receiving rehabilitative care takes place.

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care

Wounded Warrior Reconditioning Paves Way to Invictus Victory and More

Article
7/29/2022
An athlete rower

New veteran reflects on his experience at the last Invictus Games as a recovering service member and how DOD adaptive sports programs got him there and aided in recovery.

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care

Wounded Sailor Ready to Lead Navy Wounded Warrior Marksmen to Victory

Article
7/8/2022
Roel Espino and Retired AZ3 Elizabeth “Ellie” Smith at Navy Warrior Games Training Camp

Adaptive sports allow athletes to pursue new goals. Team Navy’s Shooting Coach Roel Espino shares his journey from athlete to coach.

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care – A Virtual Show of Strength | Warrior Care

378th Medical Partnerships Sustain Life and Mission

Article Around MHS
6/1/2022
Military medical personnel perform mock emergency care

Air Force medical contingency response team members, with the 378th Expeditionary Medical Squadron, perform mock emergency medical care for a simulated casualty at Prince Sultan Air Base, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Warrior Care

Multiservice medical providers, medics take on dive injuries, treatments

Article Around MHS
5/31/2022
Military personnel in pool for training

A group of medical providers and medics recently spent two weeks at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Dive Center here learning how to treat patients who may have suffered a dive injury.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Warrior Care

JBLM Soldiers Start Preparing for Warrior Games With Hard Training

Article Around MHS
4/19/2022
Military personnel training for Army Trials and DoD Warrior Games

The DoD Warrior Games 2022 may be months away, but the Soldiers of Task Force Phoenix at Joint Base Lewis-McChord Soldier Recovery Unit (SRU) in Tacoma, Washington already are deep into an intense training regimen in the hopes of securing some shiny hardware this August in Texas.

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care

Recovering Service Members Compete in National Rowing Championship

Article
3/4/2022
Recovering Service Members and Paralympic athletes take on National Indoor Row Championship.

Recovering Service Members compete in 2022 national indoor rowing championships.

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care

Air Force Invisible Wounds Initiative helps build a supportive culture

Article
2/4/2022
Invisible Wounds Initiative

Late last year, the Air Force launched Invisible Wounds Initiative Command Team Campaign

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care

National Caregivers Day

Infographic
1/12/2022
National Caregivers Day

It’s #NationalCaregiversDay! Thank you to the millions of dedicated caregivers keeping our loved ones safe and healthy. https://warriorcare.dodlive.mil/Caregiver-Resources/

Recommended Content:

February | Warrior Care

Ft. Belvoir Leaders Learn to Row Learn More About MASP

Article
12/10/2021
Military personnel participating in adaptive sports

Fort Belvoir Soldier Recovery Unit Command team joins MASP for a rowing clinic in Washington D.C. to experience benefits of adaptive sports firsthand.

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care

Caregiver Wife’s Support Instrumental to Wounded Warrior’s Recovery

Article
11/30/2021
Retired Air Force Tech Sgt. Eric Heldman staying active

Eric and Crystal Heideman are not just husband and wife, but life partners navigating life as a wounded warrior and his full-time caregiver with resilience, will, and above all, love for one another.

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care

Meet the Matriarch of Wounded Warrior Caregivers at Walter Reed

Article
11/30/2021
Service members transporting a severely wounded soldier

For worried caregivers at Walter Reed Bethesda, Linda Rasnake is a positive force of nature.

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care

Mental Stress is like a ‘Check Engine Light’ Flashing–Don’t Ignore It

Article
11/29/2021
Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Jason David talks about his  journey of recovery through the Air Force Wounded Warrior Program during a video conversation with Defense Health Agency Command Sgt. Major Michael Gragg.

Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Jason David speaks about his own journey of recovery through the Air Force Wounded Warrior Program.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Warrior Care | Warrior Care – A Virtual Show of Strength | Psychological Fitness
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 6
Refine your search
Last Updated: July 22, 2022

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.