By Jim Wenzel, WTC Stratcom
Wounded Soldiers from across the country will soon be arriving at the Olympic Training Center (OTC) in Colorado Springs, CO, for the Warrior Games. Not content to simply overcome individual challenges of healing and recovery, these Soldiers are hungry to test themselves and represent the Army in the competitive arena. For some AW2 Soldiers, their participation reflects their desire to look forward to future goals and challenges beyond recovery. Many of them share a common goal—to continue on active duty in the Army (COAD), or Army Reserve (COAR).
SGT Robert Brown became an AW2 Soldier after sustaining injuries during enemy contact in Iraq that required the amputation of his right leg below the knee. He has been approved to continue his active career and is now a competitor in the Warrior Games. He will compete in the ‘Ultimate Warrior’ pentathlon and as a member of the Army 200 meter free swim relay team. His goal is to use the Games to test himself as he prepares for the U.S. Paralympic Games.
Wounded by shrapnel during Operation Iraqi Freedom, SGT Lilina Benning now spends many hours a week preparing for the compound bow portion of the archery event, the standing shot put, and as a member of the Army sitting volleyball team. She is an AW2 Soldier approved to COAD and feels strongly that her training for the upcoming Games helps as both physical and occupational therapy.
Also making the journey to Colorado will be SGT Robert Price. He was hit by an IED in January 2007 and the wound to his right leg required amputation below the knee. SGT Price is an AW2 COAD Soldier competing in the 10 meter air rifle (prone), archery (compound open), and sitting volleyball events. He has been actively shooting for three years and recently trained with the United States Army Marksmanship Unit at Fort Benning. Ultimately his goal is competing in the 2012 Paralympic Games.
In the face of adversity, these Soldiers have chosen to accept the challenge of top-level competition. Their selection to COAD and compete not only opens up the possibility of victory at the Games, but also future success through their active service and perhaps a journey that may lead some to the 2012 Paralympic Games in London.
Other AW2 COAD Soldiers going to Warrior Games include: WO1 Johnathan Holsey, SGT Michael Lukow, SFC Andrew McCaffrey, SSG Eric Moriarty, SFC Landon Ranker, and SSG Curtis Winston. For more information about eligibility and application to COAD/COAR go to the AW2 website here. To follow the May 10-14 Warrior Games, check the AW2 Blog often—our team will be blogging from the OTC all week!