HomeNewsArticle Display

The person, the Airman, the wounded warrior

Master Sgt. Sharina Elrod, from the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center Inspector General’s office, is a Wounded Warrior Ambassador. (U.S. Air Force photo/Laura McGowan)

Master Sgt. Sharina Elrod, from the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center Inspector General’s office, is a Wounded Warrior Ambassador. (U.S. Air Force photo/Laura McGowan)

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – Master Sgt. Sharina Elrod, with the Air Force Life Cycle Management Inspector General’s office, and an Air Force Wounded Warrior Program (AFW2) Ambassador, said she couldn’t wait to join the Air Force, serving her country and seeing the world. In 1998, the self-described “go-getter” began her military career.

“While deployed for a year, I noticed some irregularities with my breasts,” Elrod said. “I decided to wait until after my deployment was up to get it checked.”

She said, “When I got to my next base, Ramstein AB, Germany, the doctors did some tests, and an MRI showed that I had a cancer that was benign, but it was on my pituitary gland and needed to be treated to stop its growth.”

Her doctors decided she would be given a medication, not chemo, to stop the tumor’s growth.

“I was on the medication for seven years, and I thought everything had stabilized,” Elrod said. “So after being stationed at a couple of overseas bases, I got to Hickam AFB, Hawaii, and I thought it would be a good time to get off the medication.”

Elrod said the doctors were pleased with her progress and agreed she could get off the medication. However, they wanted her to see someone in neurology, because they saw something else on her MRI that needed further evaluation.

“While there, I got the diagnosis that kind of changed my life in the military and changed me as a person,” she said. “I was diagnosed with having multiple sclerosis; they found a bunch of lesions in my brain, and at 34 years old, that’s not really something you want to hear, while you’re on this streak to greatness in the military.”

She said, “You pretty much see your life as over, in a wheelchair, alone, paralyzed and essentially dead before most of your friends and family.”

“I had to do research on my own, because as I was told by my neurologist at the time, there were many cases such as mine,” said Elrod. “They’re [the doctors] desensitized to autoimmune diseases; they treat the disease, but they don’t treat the person.”

She felt alone, and she had to find her own support and found a great volunteer opportunity through an Air Force Wounded Warrior Care event, overseeing the rowing event. There, she met a senior master sergeant who also has MS. He encouraged her to become involved as a Wounded Warrior Ambassador to tell her story about living with this invisible and silent disease. It affects her brain, spinal cord, optic nerves, causes problems with vision, balance, muscle control and other basic body functions pertaining to the nervous system, and it is a progressive disease with no cure.

“People assume you’re okay, because you’re not in a wheelchair and don’t look sick,” said Elrod. “It’s a silent disability, but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. We go on, but people can’t see it. They don’t see the tremors, shakes, and most importantly the fear.”

Elrod goes on to explain, “That’s where educating the public and leadership to know your people and talk to them [is important]. Ask them how they’re doing. Sit down with them and really get to know them, because you may have someone who is suffering from their silent disability and feeling alone and thinking about stopping the hurt and pain permanently on their own.”

Editor’s note: Master Sgt. Elrod is a married mother of one, and is expecting another child soon. As an AFW2 Ambassador, she often speaks at different events about invisible illnesses and dealing with depression.

Twitter
In @usairforce Col Michael Flatten's parting message as Director of #AFW2 he wants all #WoundedWarriors to know tha… https://t.co/qlEIjS8IRp
Twitter
Many of our #Warriors rely on sports to be an essential part of their #Recovery. Join our #AFW2Social! This morning… https://t.co/xQM6zI3gXA
Twitter
Don't forget to tune into the #AFW2Socials we have planned this week! Invite your #wingmen, have your questions rea… https://t.co/cVTzF2l8bl
Twitter
Coping with Stress During Uncertain Times? Don't miss this special Monday AFW2 Live Resiliency Social on Facebook w… https://t.co/lcwQGBxqxL
Twitter
#AFW2_warriorwednesday Staff Sgt. Matthew Amick joined the #AirForce in 2009 and serves as a missile facility manag… https://t.co/uU9UkTmMWj
Twitter
The @USMC are lead planners for the 2020 @warriorgames and made the decision to cancel the games due to safety and… https://t.co/IIClisu1yn
Twitter
Don't forget to tune into the #AFW2Socials we have planned this week! Invite your #wingmen, have your questions rea… https://t.co/h3cPGjd6LD
Twitter
Happy Armed Forces Day to all service heroes for their patriotic commitment to this great Nation. Today we recogniz… https://t.co/04rvSEGq3V
Twitter
May is Mental Health Awareness month and this year it comes during a time of uncertainty and physical distancing th… https://t.co/ili23ToAKa
Twitter
Check out our #AFW2social featuring Master Sgt. Mike Meyers. https://t.co/WQadv8IwWF
Twitter
Check us out live on our main #AFW2 page for an #AFW2social featuring federal resume writing. https://t.co/JT1qLjg0Gj
Twitter
Check us out on Facebook. We're LIVE right now. https://t.co/YoBqc56cNi
Twitter
#AFW2 is going to be there with @cmsaf18. Are YOU? https://t.co/JCZfX4sqOZ
Twitter
Check us out LIVE tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. CDT for an #AFW2social on Federal Resume Writing. https://t.co/JqhpIDwfCj
Twitter
RT @cmsaf18: Team, please join @GenDaveGoldfein and I, April 6 at 3:30 pm EST, as we host a #COVIDー19 virtual town hall on the @usairforce
Twitter
Hey #warriors and #caregivers...you’re in for a special treat! @USAFReserve Tech. Sgt. Johnny Holliday will be pu… https://t.co/iGxlOfkCYG
Twitter
https://t.co/dlythfRfch A discussion on how warriors can remain positive, resilient, and social during this time of… https://t.co/Fh6SDWoyVo
Twitter
Hey #warriors! Who has had to change their daily routine to ensure everyone remains healthy and safe? What about th… https://t.co/PbLHX4Qemm
Twitter
#AFW2_warriorwednesday Senior Airman Richard Hernandez joined the @usairforce in 2016 and is stationed at… https://t.co/XZUVSZvUh9
Twitter
Good morning, #warriors! Have you checked out the latest episode of AFW2: Blue & Beyond? This week, we’re diving… https://t.co/egKGa4SBJA
Twitter
5,491
Follow Us