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Home | Tag Archives: Warrior Transition Unit

Tag Archives: Warrior Transition Unit

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: To dream the “Ultimate” dream…again

Two years ago retired Staff Sgt. Ross Alewine was adjusting to his new normal, after undergoing multiple surgeries. The twice-deployed infantryman was dealing with an Achilles rupture and shoulder reconstructive surgeries that would take him out of the Army.

“I was real competitive in high school I played all sports then I went in the Army and I wanted to be the best in my job. When I couldn’t do my job anymore, it came back to ‘hey I can do sports again so let’s be the best at that’,” said Alewine.

He truly was the best after earning the title “Ultimate Champion” at the 2018 Department of Defense Warrior Games, a title reserved for the top athlete. Alewine is going for back-to-back wins of the title, something that’s never been done before. Competing in this year’s Army trials at Fort Bliss has Alewine wanting to show others how you can recover and overcome any setback.

“It means showing other guys and gals that you can come back and try. There’s no reason you can’t come back and compete like I’m doing.” Coming back from injuries can be hard and Alewine knows it. He lived the impossible dream and dared to dream it again but he says you have to never give up.

“I say be persistent and keep your head up. If you get knocked down 10 times get up 11, laugh and then ask for more. Get off the couch that’s the biggest thing,” said Alewine.

Adaptive sports helped get this champion off the couch. His recovery at the Fort Belvoir Warrior Transition Unit was more than a fix for what was broken.

“(Fort Belvoir WTU) absolutely saved my life. From saving my life to it helped me get around more and be more active- I’m in great shape, I’m able to do more with my kids and I’m able to be a functioning member of society.” It wasn’t easy but he encourages any wounded, injured or ill Soldier to go for the gold but cautions you have to start small like he did.

“I could barely push around in a basketball wheelchair and now I just won a gold medal with Team U.S. at Invictus but you gotta start somewhere.”

Alewine started at regional-level trials, then won at the Army-wide trials, then went on to win at the Department of Defense Warrior Games. His trip to Invictus Games in Sydney last October, he says was priceless. In fact he claims he felt like a million dollars at those games.

“Walking in with Team U.S.A. on your back representing the country you fought for and then actually going over there and doing pretty good, there’s nothing like it!” Alewine is competing in swimming, rowing, archery, power lifting, cycling, seated volleyball and wheelchair basketball at Fort Bliss, March 6-16, with the desire to go back to Warrior Games on Team Army as an Ultimate Champion once again.

Author: MaryTherese Griffin – Warrior Care and Transition

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