ARLINGTON, Va. - When Dr. Lisa Maddox was a Girl Scout, she witnessed the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington Cemetery. She was beyond moved at the respect, dedication and sacrifices made for our country. So much so that she applied, and was accepted, to the United States Military Academy at West Point.
After graduation in 1989, Maddox was commissioned as a military intelligence officer, but had a change of heart and decided to become a doctor. While on active duty, Maddox completed medical school at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Also during her time in service she would develop a condition known as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, a chronic pain condition that lasts greater than six months, which would end up forcing her to have her left leg amputated above the knee.
Her amputation occurred in 2006, two years after she retired. "The hardest part of my journey has been accepting the fact that things are different. I had multiple joint issues prior to the amputation. By missing a leg, it puts a lot of stress on my other joints, causing them to wear more quickly than they would have otherwise."
No worn joint, missing leg or pain would keep this veteran athlete from excelling! She does it in a wheelchair now and has big plans. "I would like to make Team Army for the Department of Defense Warrior Games and go on to compete at the Invictus Games. Eventually, I want to make the national wheelchair tennis team and represent the U.S. in the future at the Tennis World Cup and the 2020 Paralympics," said Maddox.
The busy doctor still trains three days a week and has become an accomplished wheelchair tennis player having competed in the United States Tennis Association Wheelchair Tennis Women's A Division. She was ranked #1 last year and has even learned to practice her serves while sitting on her bed.
"Apart from making Team Army and Invictus Games, my next goal is to start playing in the women's open division of the wheelchair tennis professional circuit, which is governed by the International Tennis Federation."
Dr. Maddox is thankful for the opportunity to have something like Army Trials and Warrior Games whereas wheelchair tennis makes its debut as a competitive event. She will also compete in shooting and hand cycling. She sees her participation in these events as serving up an extra helping of encouragement to others with a healthy dose of resiliency.
"As a veteran who works at a Veteran Administration hospital, I feel it's important to show other veterans who I serve that it is important to stay active, resilient and pursue what is important to you."
Dr. Maddox is currently a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician, working at the Charlie Norwood Veterans Affairs Hospital in Augusta, Ga.