By Patricia Sands, WTC Stratcom
“I can do it with one arm behind my back…” That phrase takes on a whole new meaning at the Warrior Games. Whether it’s one arm, one leg, or one eye, it doesn’t matter: these Soldiers have come to win in life. They bring what they have and give it their all. And no, it is not just testosterone speaking, there are tons of women representing the Army. It is internal strength and fortitude that rises from the deepest center of their soul that fills in what was lost. Life is not fair, but life is what you make of it.
After spending a week in their midst, the admiration I have for all of warriors is immense. I might as well be looking at the face of my son when I am watching the basketball team. My oldest is approximately the same age and is an Army 2LT in Korea. The Warrior Games and the healing of all wounded warriors are very personal to me, as both a military widow and a mother of a Soldier.
Look in the mirror and ask yourself how you would have reacted at 25 years old, in the face of such a life-changing event? Would you be on the court steering headlong into a crushing pile of wheelchairs and maybe landing hard across the floor—while being happy about it? After watching them play, I can say for myself even at my age “I would!” I might not win…but I sure would play. It looks like a lot of fun. These warriors show the way for all with “disabilities.” To me they are justdifferently abled. And they are very abled at that.
Coach Garner has seen players grow and develop on and off the court due to sports. Sports can give a person confidence and friendship to succeed in other areas of their recovery. He has said it is so important for them to get out early and push their bodies in a way that is challenging and developmental, but also fun. “Fun is something that is often missing in the lives of a lot of people with disabilities. Because many times they are very limited in their options of what is available to them.”
Next week the competition will be over for these wounded, ill, and injured servicemembers, but not the forward motion in other directions in their lives. I would like to highlight an example of how yet another Soldier is succeeding off the court. SPC Anthony Pone was injured and lost one leg in a car accident in 2002 while serving at Ft. Lee, VA. He will tell you that his inspiration to succeed and go forward is his two daughters, Shakiya and Anyea .
I am sure his daughters—as well as his whole extended Family—are extremely inspired and proud of SPC Pone. Last week, they saw their dad in a cap and gown being handed a hard-earned college diploma. Pone earned a BS in Social Work and a Minor in Psychology. When asked what his plans are, he said he is not stopping until he has his Masters. His goal is to work with Veterans. He said he knows he can be of help.
This is quite an accomplishment for anyone. Yet doubly exciting as SPC Pone is the first person ever in the history of his family to graduate from college. He did it. And he did it with only one leg, rolling in a wheelchair.