By Patricia Sands, WTC Stratcom
SGT Alonzo Lunsford is an AW2 Soldier and one of the coaches for the 2011 Warrior Games wheelchair basketball team. Much has happened since he was a coach last year for shot put and discus. Coach Lunsford was one of the survivors from the Fort Hood tragedy and was shot six times, resulting in blindness in one of his eyes. He is still recovering, but insisted on being at the Warrior Games for the players.
Asked why it was vital for him to return as a coach, he replied, “It is about the Soldiers and showing what is possible. These games are exciting and invigorating. The Soldiers feel alive and see progress with their mind and their bodies. Participating in athletics is very therapeutic. It releases negative feelings and gives an outlet for frustration. The Soldier can take the stress and tension out on the court and not on those in his or her life.”
Watching the players on the court, he added, “The teamwork builds friendships for life. We all have chewed the same dirt. These are my people and they have been through the same pain,” Lunsford said. “What we have been through is culture shock to those out of the military.” After listening to these words, I realized that it is therapeutic for him and the athletes to be together. It is another way to heal and is a reality about which civilians can sympathize, but cannot empathize.
He lives by the words in the title of this blog, “I am the master of my fate and the captain of my soul.” He will tell you that he may not be able to play basketball, but he can coach. He said life is about looking at what you have and making the most out of it. He is from a long line of military and law enforcement people. When I asked this father of five if he was planning on staying in the Army, he replied, “Of course, we are still at war. If I can be of service to the Army, I will stay. When the war is done, I will think about getting out.”
For now he hopes that Warrior Games will expand and more players will come forward. He believes the Warrior Games helps wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers and their Families, while educating and involving the public in a very positive way.