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Home | Tag Archives: 2019 Department of Defense Warrior Games

Tag Archives: 2019 Department of Defense Warrior Games

2019 Army Trials at Fort Bliss: Games Give Soldiers, Veterans More Than Competition

Over 80 wounded, ill and injured Soldiers and veterans came to Fort Bliss to compete for a spot on Team Army for this year’s 2019 Department of Defense Warrior Games.

After 10 days of intense competition in 14 different sports, the 2019 Army Trials is coming to a close.

Returning Army Trials athletes like Staff Sgt. Samuel Daniels, who was also a 2018 Team Army member, are making the most of their second Army Trials, while also mentoring first-time participants.

“I’m one of the big dogs now, whereas last year we were the trainees,” Daniels said. “I was here last year so I knew what to expect, but I also did two new sports (archery and shooting) so I could identify with that ‘new’ feeling this year too. I’m excited and nervous and I hope I (make Team Army) again.”

Retired U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Beth King participated in her first Army Trials this year and was humbled by the opportunity.

“It is truly an honor to be [at Army Trials]. When you have an injury that changes your abilities it is easy to lose yourself in the diagnosis and in the list of things you can no longer do,” said King.

While Army Trials is a competition, with a chance to go to Warrior Games on the line, behind the scenes it’s an opportunity, particularly for veterans, to be around others with similar injuries and in similar situations, something they may not have readily available where they live.

“As a veteran, it’s easy to feel invisible or even forgotten. I came here only knowing one other person and believing that cycling was all I was really good at. Being here I’ve found new allies, people who see me and want me to succeed at more than just my specialized event,” King said.

Retired Army Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Olson, another first-time participant, also enjoyed the opportunity to compete at Army Trials and be around other wounded, ill and injured Soldiers. “Watching people overcome whatever (injury or illness) they have to overcome every day and come out here and compete the way we are is amazing,” Olson said. “It’s motivating and inspiring and being around others facing similar challenges is great for me.”

Now that the Army Trials competition has come to an end, its participants will head home and wait to hear if they will be one of 40 athletes selected to represent Team Army at the DoD Warrior Games at Tampa. Those who are not selected for Team Army this year may try again next year, something Daniels encourages them to do for one simple reason: family.

“Being at Army Trials is like a family reunion. We all keep in touch and motivate and support each other, not just with adaptive sports, but in life too,” said Daniels. “It’s great to be able to see everyone in person and that alone is worth the trip.”

Author: Christopher Fields – U.S. Army Warrior Care and Transition

2019 Army Trials at Fort Bliss: Understanding archery and mental healing

Toeing the line, controlled breathing, then slowly drawing back the bowstring is a mental and physical exercise each athlete executed while participating in the archery event, during the 2019 Army Trials at Fort Bliss, Texas.

U.S. Army Reserve Sgt. Jonathan Alexander, Fort Bragg Warrior Transition Battalion, started participating in archery about eight months ago. “I never picked up a bow until I got to the WTB,” he explained. “Archery gets you out of the mindset that you’re hurt and can’t do anything.”

Alexander has observed his teammates pushing through their injuries and credits the adaptive nature and coaching they have received in the sport of archery as something that is helpful in recovery.

“It’s a lot more of a mental recovery as opposed to physical,” he said. “Archery helps you to calm down and realize you can do things regardless of injury. I’ve got a lower body injury. It makes you feel good about not being locked to a chair. (Archery) has given me an outlet.”

Retired Sgt. Harvey Boyd, an Atlanta native, echoed Alexander’s assessment. “Because of our injuries there is camaraderie,” said Boyd. “Some of the athletes have some serious injuries, but it’s not holding them back from competing. I have a lower back injury, but the concentration… when I take that first shot, I actually don’t feel the pain. But, after I take that last shot and exhale, my back is like ‘I’m here’!”

Participants in the archery event can shoot in either compound or recurve bow categories, from the standing or seated position, and compete in different classification categories based on functional abilities, including impaired muscle power/range of movement, limb deficiency and visual impairment. Visually-impaired archers compete in a separate classification than other archers and wear blindfolds and shoot with a tactile sight.

Both Alexander and Boyd shot in the compound bow category.

Retired Army Sgt. Harvey Boyd, Atlanta, Georgia, takes aim at his target during the compound bow archery event, March 12, at the Army Trials. (U.S. Army photo by Robert A. Whetstone)

Boyd described the difference between the compound and recurve bows, stating compound bows minimize the necessary strength to fully draw the bow, while recurve bows require more strength to draw and hold prior to releasing the arrow.

Alexander and Boyd credit adaptive sports for their continued recovery and a start to the next chapter in their lives.

“It does wonders for a lot of us,” said Alexander. “Just to get out of the barracks and get your mind free and be with people that are in the same boat as you are, and have a good time for a couple of hours during the day does wonders for mentality and even physical therapy.”

“I’ve been shooting all my life, but the WTB introduced the competitive aspect of the sport to me,” said Boyd.

For Soldiers and veterans just getting introduced to adaptive reconditioning, Alexander has some great advice: “Be coachable in everything you do.”

Author:  Robert Whetstone  – U.S. Army Warrior Care and Transition

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