CPT Ivan Castro was the first blind student and graduate of the Maneuver Captain’s Career Course (MCCC). He was severely wounded by a mortar blast in 2006 while deployed with the 82nd Airborne Division. With a 20-year Army career under his belt, Castro is determined to continue wearing the uniform and serving the country. He now serves as the operations officer for the U.S. Special Operations Recruiting Battalion, Fort Bragg, NC. I recently was able to catch up with CPT Castro to ask him about his accomplishment.
How did it feel being the first blind student at the MCCC?
I am glad to have completed the course, although it could not have been done without the support from my classmates, cadre, and my command. They treated me like everyone else. There is a place for us wounded warriors—as long as you have the right mindset, are willing to adapt, and have the right attitude and tools.
What tools do you use?
I use an audio voice recorder and screen reader software provided by DOD through programs like CAP [Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program]. CAP is the best! They have provided me with training, hardware, and software in order to continue to be productive in an office setting.
What are some things that have helped you as a wounded Soldier?
Working out is a stress relief for me. It takes me to another place. I really enjoy spinning, cycling, running, and weight lifting. I have a few marathons coming up this year in March, April, May, June, and all the military service marathons as well. Last year I ran a 50-miler, and I plan to do it again this year. I also have a strict diet, try to get restful sleep, and am blessed with ample support from Family and friends. I also try to give back by mentoring other Soldiers through SOCOM’s Care Coalition. I tell them to look at what they can do and not dwell on the losses. I try to motivate them and give them tough love.
How do you feel about your new position at the recruiting battalion?
It feels great. I have the ability to inform Soldiers about an advanced career opportunity within the Army. Previous to my injury, my intent was to become an SF ODA [Special Forces Operations Detachment Alpha] Team Leader. Since that is no longer possible, my command has allowed me to play a vital role within Special Operations. I love wearing the uniform and love serving the country. I have the experience as an enlisted Soldier and as an officer. I can show interested candidates how Special Forces takes care of you and your Family no matter what.