13 January 2010

Department of Defense announces inaugural Warrior Games

BG Gary Cheek announces the inagural Warrior Games at a Pentagon press conference, Jan. 7, 2010. DoD photo by R. D. Ward.

Wounded Vets to Participate in First Warrior Games
Office of the Secretary of Defense Public Affairs
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Carden
Date: 01.07.2010

WASHINGTON - Some 200 wounded active duty members and military veterans will compete in the inaugural Warrior Games May 10-14 in Colorado Springs, Colo., Defense Department officials announced Jan. 7.

The U.S. Olympic Committee will host the games, and events will include shooting, swimming, archery, track, discus, shot put, cycling, sitting volleyball and wheelchair basketball, Army Brig. Gen. Gary Cheek, commander of the U.S. Army Warrior Transition Command, said at a Pentagon news conference.

Athletes will be recruited from each of the military services, including the Coast Guard, through an independent selection processes. Many already participate in some kind of training with Paralympics coordinators, but the competitors also will train with Olympic and Paralympics coaches at the Olympic training facilities in Colorado for about a month before the actual competitions, Cheek said.

The competition is open to military members and veterans with bodily injuries as well as mental wounds of war, such as post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury.

The Army will be represented by 100 soldiers chosen out of a pool of almost 9,000 wounded warriors. The Marine Corps will send 50 competitors, while the Navy, the Air Force and the Coast Guard will send 25 each, Cheek said.

"While we've made enormous progress in all the military services in our warrior care, ... it's not enough," the general said. "And what we have to do with our servicemembers is inspire them to reach for and achieve a rich and productive future -- to defeat their illness or injury to maximize their abilities and know that they can have a rich and fulfilling life beyond what has happened to them in service to their nation."

Adaptive sports rehabilitation has proven time and again to have a positive, long-lasting effect on wounded warriors, said Charlie Huebner, Paralympics chief for the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Huebner noted that adaptive sports have positive effects on wounded veterans in their continued education, family life and in the work force, though that's not the Paralympics' goal.

"The outcomes that we see every day utilizing physical activity as part of the rehab process -- higher self-esteem, lower stress levels, lower secondary medical conditions ... young men and women pursuing higher education at a higher level, young men and women being employed at a higher level -- those are outcomes we see every day with the population we serve," he said.

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