When Army Sgt. (ret.) Margaux Mange was injured in Iraq, she knew her life would never be the same. Faced with the prospect that no prescription, surgery or medical procedure would ever get her back to the woman she was before her convoy was hit by an improvised explosive device, she was determined to find the balance in living and managing her pain.

“I will always have chronic pain,” Mange said. “I will always be going to a doctor and saying what’s next, what’s the next step for my recovery, can you help me with this pain? And so that’s the hardest step for me: Will I ever be fixed?”

You may be surprised to hear that one of the things that brings Mange relief – from both her pain and social anxieties – is physical activity. She says being active and outdoors is one of the true successes of her recovery.

Since her injuries, Mange has participated in three Warrior Games competitions and several USO-supported Ride 2 Recovery challenges. Earlier this year, she was selected as one of four wounded troops who’ll represent the U.S. in the 2013 Walking With The Wounded South Pole Allied Challenge, a 208-mile trek through the arctic.

The USO is proud to support Mange through her South Pole journey, from the prequalification trials in Iceland, to team training in Colorado – held this past August – and through her upcoming September ski training in Norway.

Included in her conditioning is a daily four-hour tire pull and psyching herself up for the team’s cold-weather diet. The menu item that concerns Margaux most? Sticks of butter. But their high-fat, high-calorie intake will serve to counter the extraordinary amount of calories these athletes will burn during the expedition.

In 2013, the USO will host more than 200 events designed to support wounded, ill and injured troops, their families and caregivers. To learn more about how you can help, visit USO.org and be sure to check back for more updates on Margaux’s progress.

—Story by Sharee Posey and video by Joseph Andrew Lee, USO