Jimmy Green Brings 24 Years Experience to Army Warrior Games Team

After 24 years on the wheelchair basketball court, Jimmy Green prepared to earn Army Warrior Games gold. Pictured here at the National Veteran Wheelchair Games, Green holds a 2008 Division 3 national title.

After 24 years on the wheelchair basketball court, Jimmy Green prepared to earn Army Warrior Games gold. Pictured here at the National Veteran Wheelchair Games, Green holds a 2008 Division 3 national title.

By Sarah Bartnick, WTC Stratcom
It’s been 26 years since the car accident outside Fort Lewis, Washington, that left Jimmy Green a paraplegic and ended his Army career. And 24 years since he discovered wheelchair basketball.

“As soon as I rolled into that gym, a light came over me,” said Green of the day he skeptically ventured into an interest meeting for a new team in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. “It gave me my identity back—I realized I could still be an athlete.”

Green went on to an illustrious wheelchair basketball career, winning the Division 3 National Championship in 2008 and as a current member of the Orlando Magic Wheels. He’s seen the game evolve over the last quarter-century, with the National Wheelchair Basketball Association growing to a league of 88 teams across three divisions.

“The technology of the game has changed a lot,” said Green. He explained that players originally used regular wheelchairs. Over time, players started using chairs with additional tilt—called camber—to improve the turn velocity and stability. A fifth wheel was added in the back. Now, players at all levels use chairs specifically designed for this sport, and many elite athletes order chairs customized for their individual bodies and abilities. Players customize the wheel size, specify the seat height, and choose between aluminum and titanium frames, among other options.

According to the National Wheelchair Basketball Association, the sport originated in 1948 with World War II Veterans, primarily paraplegics and spinal cord injuries. In 1960, it earned a spot in the Rome Paralympic Games, and today, the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation estimates that approximately 100,000 people around the world play wheelchair basketball for recreation or in competition.

Despite his active participation in a wide variety of adaptive sports and competitions, the Warrior Games captured Green’s attention after he saw a WTC video.

“The Warrior Games are a different dynamic, more exclusive,” said Green. “Getting selected was a challenge, plus there’s the opportunity to contribute to the Army team. The other competitions are focused on the individual, and knowing that my performance impacts the other Army athletes is a cool feeling. I feel like a Soldier, a member of a unit again.”

Green sees adaptive sports as a key element to his continuous recovery over the last 26 years. He credits it with helping him push his physical limits and emotionally, regaining the confidence to stretch his abilities in all walks of life. Sports also introduced him to a broader community of people with similar physical challenges.

“Being around other injured people helped me not feel alone,” he explained. “You talk to other guys with similar injuries and share little tricks about how to thrive.”

Overall, adaptive sports helped Green understand that he was still the same person he was before his injury. “It gave me my identity back,” he beamed. “When you roll out on the court, you’re just an athlete playing a sport.”

Watch Green and the rest of the Army wheelchair basketball team defend the 2012 gold in the Warrior Games Gold Medal Game Wednesday, May 15 on ESPN at 6:30 pm EST.

A Closer Look at Adaptive Reconditioning

By Cait McCarrie, WTC Stratcom

MSG Jarrett Jongema of the Warrior Transition Command.

MSG Jarrett Jongema of the Warrior Transition Command.

Adaptive reconditioning includes any physical activities that wounded, ill, or injured Soldiers participate in regularly to optimize their physical well-being. These activities can help Soldiers have a successful recovery whether they are transitioning back to active duty or to civilian life.

“Team building experiences, learning a new sport, and routinely practicing a challenging activity help Soldiers take responsibility for their own recovery,” said MSG Jarret Jongema, Warrior Transition Command, Adaptive Sports and Reconditioning Branch.Adaptive reconditioning programs are not traditional clinic-based rehabilitation programs, however, they often support medical goals defined in the Comprehensive Transition Plan (CTP).

The CTP supports Soldiers in transition with personalized goals in six areas: career, physical, emotional, spiritual, social, and Family. Adaptive reconditioning plays an important role in the CTP because it connects physical activity with each of those six components. It’s also a great way for Soldiers to incorporate competitive and non-competitive physical activity into their recovery.

Adaptive reconditioning is most well-known for servicemembers’ participation in adaptive sports, but it’s not just about sports. “The beauty of these activities is that no matter what your injury or experience, there is an activity for you,” said Jongema. Activities include competitive team sports, aquatic exercises, therapeutic recreational activities, gym-based training, functional training, and human performance optimization.

Adaptive reconditioning gives Soldiers the opportunity to integrate physical activity into their lives in new ways that addresses multiple parts of the path to recovery. “Whether competing on a team sport or in an individual activity, adaptive reconditioning reintegrates discipline, goal setting, and concentration into Soldiers’ lives,” added Jongema.  While each Soldier adapts to activities in different ways, participating in adaptive reconditioning often addresses physical and emotional parts of recovery.

Many Soldiers and Veterans who participate in adaptive sports and reconditioning go on to train for and even compete in the Warrior Games. This year’s games are from May 11-17 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Learn more about the road to Warrior Games here.

Eight-Time World Log-Rolling Champion Gears Up for Warrior Games Debut

By Sarah Bartnick, WTC Stratcom
Army Veteran J.R. Salzman has never been one to watch from the sidelines. Inspired by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, he enlisted in the Minnesota National Guard. During his deployments, he served on patrol missions and convoy escort teams, among the most dangerous assignments in Iraq. He competed as a professional log-roller and won eight world titles from 1998 to 2010.

Covering the 2012 Warrior Games as a reporter inspired Army Veteran J.R. Salzman to compete for a spot on the 2013 Army team. The eight-time log-rolling world champion, pictured here at a Tough Mudder event, will go for gold in cycling and track in his Warrior Games debut. (Photo courtesy of J.R. Salzman)

Covering the 2012 Warrior Games as a reporter inspired Army Veteran J.R. Salzman to compete for a spot on the 2013 Army team. The eight-time log-rolling world champion, pictured here at a Tough Mudder event, will go for gold in cycling and track in his Warrior Games debut. (Photo courtesy of J.R. Salzman)

On December 19, 2006, his unit was scouting for Improvised Explosive Devises (IEDs) when his HUMVEE was struck by an Explosively Formed Penetrator (EFP). Salzman lost his right arm below the elbow and sustained severe damage to his left hand and a traumatic brain injury. But even these injuries didn’t stop him from earning his seventh and eight world log-rolling titles, blogging about wounded warrior and military issues, or becoming a freelance journalist.

He’s a participant in life, not a watcher. That’s why he wasn’t satisfied with his role as a reporter at the 2012 Warrior Games. I met him when he covered the Warrior Transition Command press conference, and I could see it in his eyes. The itch, the frustration, the desire to get out and show all the other wounded, ill or injured athletes that he could outperform each of them. But more importantly, he found the community of “wounded warriors” he’d missed since he left the Army, a community that understands and embraces one another. A community that celebrates abilities and accomplishments just as much as winning gold.

Here’s what he wrote about his 2012 Warrior Games experience on his personal blog:

As a fellow wounded warrior at the games, I found myself with the unfamiliar feeling of comfort in my surroundings. It was a feeling I had not felt since I was a recovering patient at Walter Reed in 2007. Despite the fact I was at the games as a civilian journalist, and was surrounded by many who had injuries far more severe, I heard “thank you for your service” more times during my one-week stay than in my last six months in the civilian world. At the Warrior Games, people get it. They did not ask a million questions, some bordering on the absurd or obtuse. They did not debate you on the merits of the war, or apologize for what happened to you because you had to go “over there.

Army Swimming Team Prepares to Compete in the 2013 Warrior Games

Staff Sgt. Robert Iem, Warrior Transition Battalion Cadre Staff (left) and Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness-Performance Enhancement Specialist Kelly O’Brien (right) check in with Sgt. Delvin Maston after the team’s practice at the Iron Horse Pool on Fort Carson, Colo. on May 7, 2013. (Photo by U.S. Army Warrior Transition Command).

Staff Sgt. Robert Iem, Warrior Transition Battalion Cadre Staff (left) and Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness-Performance Enhancement Specialist Kelly O’Brien (right) check in with Sgt. Delvin Maston after the team’s practice at the Iron Horse Pool on Fort Carson, Colo. on May 7, 2013. (Photo by U.S. Army Warrior Transition Command).

After months of training and tryouts, a full day of rest, and experiencing a small piece of Colorado Springs, seven Soldiers from the U.S. Army swim team spent three early-morning hours swimming laps and perfecting their form at the Iron Horse Pool at Fort Carson, Colo.

The Army team, a dynamic mix of Soldiers and Veterans, certainly has the talent and confidence to win gold. “We’ve got a really good team of athletes and swimmers… they are a lot of fun,” said Coach Bob Bugg.

A swim instructor from Georgia, Bugg was introduced to the Warrior Games this year when a previous student – and coach for a Marine Corp Warrior Games team – recommended him. He committed to the team after a few swim camps, and along with the team’s resilience coach and Warrior Transition Battalion (WTB) Cadre, provides a tremendous amount of support to the team, while encouraging them to train hard. Other supporters in attendance for practice events included a WTB Commander, an Occupational Therapist from Fort Knox, Ky. and a handful of Fort Carson’s active duty Soldiers and Family members.

Army Swim Coach Bob Bugg helps Spc. Alaina Barnes perfect her form during practice at the Iron Horse Pool on Fort Carson, Colo. on May 7, 2013. (Photo by U.S. Army Warrior Transition Command).

Army Swim Coach Bob Bugg helps Spc. Alaina Barnes perfect her form during practice at the Iron Horse Pool on Fort Carson, Colo. on May 7, 2013. (Photo by U.S. Army Warrior Transition Command).

The Army Swim team will continue to train throughout the week in preparation for the start of the Games on Saturday, May 11, 2013. And when they are not in the pool, they are training to compete in other Warrior Games sports.

Sgt. Delvin Maston, a native of Birmingham, Ala., is no stranger to the Warrior Games, though this year is most important; he’s taking his competitive spirit from the gym floor to the pool. “I’m most excited to swim this year,” he said, adding that it has only been about six months since he learned to swim after his 2009 injury. He also plans to win more gold medals in the Wheelchair Basketball and Sitting Volleyball events.

Fellow Infantryman Spc. Quinton Picone decided to end practice on a lighter note when he pulled himself up the stairs of the higher of the two diving boards and jumped in the pool surrounded by his teammates and coaching staff. “I just wanted to do it for fun,” he said “but tomorrow, I am going to do a backflip!”

Spc. Quinton Picone dives into the pool “for fun” after three grueling hours of practice at the Iron Horse Pool on Fort Carson, Colo. on May 7, 2013. (Photo by U.S. Army Warrior Transition Command).

Spc. Quinton Picone dives into the pool “for fun” after three grueling hours of practice at the Iron Horse Pool on Fort Carson, Colo. on May 7, 2013. (Photo by U.S. Army Warrior Transition Command).

Bugg has taken quick to the courage and determination that is the warriors’ spirit and has the upmost confidence in each of his Swimmers. “They will race, and they will win!”

The Swimming events will take place on the morning of Friday, May 16, 2013 at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.

The Warrior Games bring together wounded, ill, or injured service members in a sporting competition hosted by the U.S. Olympic Committee. Competition continues throughout the week with archery, shooting, sitting volleyball, swimming, wheelchair basketball, and track and field.

To learn more about the Warrior Games or the Army athletes, visit the Warrior Transition Command at www.WTC.army.mil.

Once a Soldier…Army Veteran and Two-Time Paralympic Medalist Coaches Sitting Volleyball Team

Army Veteran Kari Miller earned two Paralympic silver medals in sitting volleyball.  In 2013, she’s coaching the Army team to defend its gold. (U.S. Air Force photo by MSG Sean M. Worrell)

Army Veteran Kari Miller earned two Paralympic silver medals in sitting volleyball. In 2013, she’s coaching the Army team to defend its gold. (U.S. Air Force photo by MSG Sean M. Worrell)

By Sarah Bartnick, WTC Stratcom
Kari Miller holds two Paralympic silvers in women’s sitting volleyball—from London and Beijing. She holds a world title, and she was named “best libero” (a special defensive position) at several prestigious international competitions. She’s among the best sitting volleyball players in the world.

And she’s coaching the 2013 Army Warrior Games team to defend their gold medal.

Miller didn’t always play sitting volleyball—her skills shone in basketball and track in high school, and she continued to play sports, even just for fun, when she joined the Army in 1995, even during her time in Bosnia and Germany.

She went home to visit her Family for Christmas in 1999, and everything changed. A drunk driver hit her vehicle, killing her friend and causing the amputation of both legs, one above the knee, one below.

Miller kept a positive attitude from the day she woke up, and when she discovered adaptive sports (first wheelchair basketball), her recovery improved dramatically too. Naturally,  as an incredible athlete, she quickly rose to the top of her sport.

But Miller is a Soldier first, even since leaving the Army. Since 2008, she’s worked with more than 450 servicemembers at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, including Warrior Transition Unit Soldiers, to introduce them to the power of adaptive sports and reconditioning, specifically to sitting volleyball and wheelchair basketball.

She’s spent the last several months helping the Army sitting volleyball team prepare at  Warrior Transition Command training and selection clinics.

“It’s like going back to the time before my accident,” she said of surrounding herself with so many Soldiers during the training and competition, full of the camaraderie of her old Army unit.

She’s up for the challenge. “Warrior Games is on par with competing at the Paralympics for me. The biggest reward will be when we take home gold.”

Watch Kari Miller and the Army team defend their sitting volleyball gold live on ESPN on May 15, 8:30 pm/EST.

Think sitting volleyball’s a sleeper? Check out this 60-second Warrior Transition Command video to see the punishing sport for yourself.

Your Life Could Be Better Through Sports

Lt. Col. Danny Dudek emphasizes the power of adaptive sports and reconditioning in recovery and encourages all WTU Soldiers to try a new activity.

Lt. Col. Danny Dudek emphasizes the power of adaptive sports and reconditioning in recovery and encourages all WTU Soldiers to try a new activity.

By Sarah Bartnick, WTC Stratcom
“Your life could be better through sports.” That’s Lt. Col. Danny Dudek’s advice for all wounded, ill or injured Soldiers recovering at Warrior Transition Units.

And he knows what he’s talking about.  Not only did he command the Joint Base Lewis-McCord WTB after recovering from a spinal cord injury, he’s also defending three golds and a silver from his first Warrior Games.

As a WTB commander, Dudek saw success at the individual level when medical professionals focused on a “positive” profile.  “Instead of listing all the things a Soldier can’t do, some great doctors would list what the Soldiers can do,” he explained.  “For example, if my profile said I could go swimming, that swimming was good for my recovery, then my Squad Leader could make it my place of duty.”

“A lot of Soldiers aren’t willing to put themselves out there,” said Dudek. “Cadre and commanders can create an environment where Soldiers are willing to try, especially in small groups of five or less—epiphanies happen in small groups.”

Dudek encourages all WTU Soldiers to try an adaptive sport that’s best suited for their personality.  He competes in triathlons, skiing, and a variety of other sports throughout the year.  “Not everyone’s a daredevil like me,” he grinned as he leaned his wheelchair back into a wheelie.  “More exacting people like golf or shooting, but I like the element of danger.”

When he wrote the Comprehensive Transition Plan (CTP) policy and guidance, Dudek emphasized adaptive reconditioning and Career and Employment Readiness, “because they’re both essential building blocks to transition,” he said.  “They enhance your quality of life.”

Going into the Warrior Games, Dudek’s most excited about his parents’ support.  “Cycling is on Mother’s Day,” he added, “and this year, both my parents are coming.”

“This Chair Is Not Going to Define Me”

By Sarah Bartnick, WTC Stratcom

MAJ John Arbino refused to let a wheelchair define him after he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. He will compete in wheelchair racing and shooting at the 2013 Warrior Games.  (U.S. Army Photo by Patrick Cubel).

MAJ John Arbino refused to let a wheelchair define him after he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. He will compete in wheelchair racing and shooting at the 2013 Warrior Games. (U.S. Army Photo by Patrick Cubel)

Of all the people who influenced MAJ John Arbino during his recovery at the Fort Belvoir Warrior Transition Unit (WTU), one late-night talk with fellow Soldiers may have had the biggest impact. “There were four of us, all in wheelchairs,” said the career Soldier who was first diagnosed with progressive multiple sclerosis in 2009. “And we were all struggling with our identities. Who were we now?  Were we still the people we were before?”

After that conversation, Arbino went back to his room and parked his wheelchair in its usual spot.  The lifelong athlete started wondering what hobbies he could start, but he was frustrated that he’d only be able to enjoy stationary hobbies.  “I didn’t want to do puzzles,” he said, “I didn’t want to be the old guy in the commissary with a walker.”

The harsh hospital room light shone on his new blue electric wheelchair, his racing chair and his hand cycle.  The answer was clear: he was still MAJ John Arbino. There was still a lot he could do.

“Adaptive sports saved me,” he said. “It gave me a whole new outlook, a new way to redefine who I am.”

It wasn’t long before Arbino started participating in the Fort Belvoir adaptive reconditioning program and attended the Warrior Transition Command Warrior Games training and selection clinics. “I had no idea what I was getting into,” he said, “and wheelchair racing was the hardest sport I’ve ever tried.”

Arbino explained that the motion of pushing a racing chair is very different from a regular everyday wheelchair.  For an everyday chair, you grab the wheel at the top and push relatively gently, just enough momentum to keep you going at a walking speed.  With a racing chair, you grab the wheel toward the bottom and push with as much force as you can, since the races are usually sprints.

Arbino explained that most Soldiers start doing wheelies once they get comfortable in a regular wheelchair.  That doesn’t quite work with a racing chair, and you can tell a new racer as the one tipped over on the track.

“It happens to all the new guys,” Arbino laughed.  “We call it turtling, because you’re stuck looking up at the sky until someone tips you back up.  At the last clinic, when I should have had enough experience, but I was laughing so hard I flipped over twice in a row.  The coaches thought I’d hurt myself.”

“See, you’re hunched over with your knees at your chest,” he explained, “Your center of gravity is way back.”

After the selection clinic, he started training in a borrowed chair.  “I’d go up to the top floor of the parking garage and get in a few miles going back and forth,” he said.  And his face lit up when he explained that people would stop him and tell him how much he’d inspired them.

After more than 20 years as a Soldier, Arbino will retire with honor just two weeks after Warrior Games.

“I couldn’t have a better last mission,” he said, his face beaming with pride.  “The Warrior Games is almost my retirement ceremony.  As a Soldier, you’re always representing the Army, but as one of hundreds or one of thousands.  Representing the Army as one of 50 is special.”

Holding Eight Warrior Games Medals, MSG Rhoden Galloway Focuses on Team Spirit

MSG Rhoden Galloway (left) and SGT Se and Karpf, Warrior Transition Unit, compete at the cycling and swimming assessment and selection clinic at Fort Bliss, Texas.  With eight swimming medals to his credit, Galloway focuses on the team dynamic at this year’s Warrior Games. (U.S. Army Photo by Patrick Cubel)

MSG Rhoden Galloway (left) and SGT Se and Karpf, Warrior Transition Unit, compete at the cycling and swimming assessment and selection clinic at Fort Bliss, Texas. With eight swimming medals to his credit, Galloway focuses on the team dynamic at this year’s Warrior Games. (U.S. Army Photo by Patrick Cubel)

By Sarah Bartnick, WTC Stratcom
To MSG Rhoden Galloway, serving in the Army means serving as part of a team.

“Sometimes, it’s because we’ve suffered together,” he grinned as he reflected on the Army camaraderie he’d experienced throughout his Army career. “You spend nights laying on the earth in 20 or 30 degree weather half a world away from everyone you love, you become a team. On the mornings you’re feeling off, your buddies help boost your spirits. We suffer together, and we grow together.”

That didn’t change during his recovery at the Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC) Warrior Transition Battalion (WTB) at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

“At the WTB, everyone is in different phases of life, of recovery,” he explained. “It’s the strength of those who have been there that you look to when you’re recovering yourself. They’ve managed to get to the next phase, and you know you can too.”  He contributes to that team dynamic even after a Medical Review Board found him fit for duty, serving as the Noncommissioned Officer in Charge of operations and training at the BAMC WTB. Encouraging newly injured Soldiers is a top priority for him. In fact, this former medic plans to work with people facing physical limitations for years to come.

Galloway found a strong team spirit around the Army Warrior Games pool. “In swimming, we all have our own passion, but we make progress on our own together. There’s a synergistic approach to competition.”

In 2011, Galloway almost met his goal of four swimming golds. Almost. He won three. “I was almost more proud of the silver,” he laughed, “because it was the relay. It wasn’t about first, second, or third; it was about what we could accomplish as a team.”

Feeling the pressure to defend his stellar performance, he won four silvers in 2012. “I’m not just representing myself or BAMC anymore. I’m representing the Army as a whole,” he said. “I’ve become much more passionate about the team performance.”  This year, he’ll again compete in swimming and cycling.

The 2013 Warrior Games arrive just months before Galloway expects to retire and his teens leave for college. In this time of change in his personal life, Galloway said, “I hope to make a strong impression and represent the Army as a whole. It’s my job to pass the torch, to make an impact. I hope people will see disabled people who are so physically driven and capable and be inspired themselves.”

Recover, Find Employment, Ski Downhill on One Leg: One Soldier’s Transition Story

CSM Lawrence Wilson, United States Forces-Iraq, introduces the wounded warriors of Operation Proper Exit IV, on January 31, at the Al Faw Palace in Baghdad, Iraq. (Left to right) CPL Charles Dominguez, SGT  Jay Fain, SGT Omar Avila, SGT 1st Class Michael Schlitz, MSG Tom Carpenter, CPT Ferris Butler and CPT Lonnie Moore. (U.S. Army Photo by SGT. Lindsey Bradford, United States Forces-Iraq Public Affairs Office)

CSM Lawrence Wilson, United States Forces-Iraq, introduces the wounded warriors of Operation Proper Exit IV, on January 31, at the Al Faw Palace in Baghdad, Iraq. (Left to right) CPL Charles Dominguez, SGT Jay Fain, SGT Omar Avila, SGT 1st Class Michael Schlitz, MSG Tom Carpenter, CPT Ferris Butler and CPT Lonnie Moore. (U.S. Army Photo by SGT. Lindsey Bradford, United States Forces-Iraq Public Affairs Office)

By Emily D. Anderson, WTC Stratcom
For the first few months after being wounded by a rocket propelled grenade that amputated his leg, Army Veteran Lonnie Moore, program analyst for the U.S. Army Warrior Transition Command, found himself depressed and angry.

“For me, there was a very dark time in my life after I was wounded in Iraq for about the first 10 months,” said the Chula Vista, California, native. “I had some significant challenges accepting that my military career as an infantry officer was over as I knew it and then my fiancée called off our wedding.”

However, a staff member from Disabled Sports USA (DSUSA) invited him to attend their Ski Spectacular in December 2004, and despite Moore’s resistance, would not accept no for an answer.

“The first time I skied down the mountain, it was a spiritual moment that relieved every care and concern in the world from me,” said Moore. “I honestly don’t think I would be where I am today without DSUSA Ski Spectacular and the freedom and confidence it provided me.”

Moore, who medically retired from the Army in October 2005 as a captain, credits his skiing experience and his additional fondness of other adaptive reconditioning activities with finding a new direction in life, “Skiing provided me salvation from myself and gave me the new found confidence to seek employment, date, and eventually I married a physical therapist from Walter Reed and moved on with my life.”

“Adaptive sports gave me the mental edge when I was at my lowest,” he added. “It also increased my balance, stamina, and agility in order to lessen my time in rehabilitation.”

Moore has continued his passion of physical activities and has since added basketball which he uses a specialized prosthesis designed for Soldiers with above the knee amputations to return to combat, and cycling to his repertoire.

“It is tremendous all of the sports that can be done with a little bit of adaptation,” he said. “Adaptive sports are important and I highly encourage everyone to participate in whatever events they can to stimulate their recovery process.”

Moore also serves as chairman for the Wounded Warrior Project and Operation Homefront-Southern California, served as a board member on the National Council on Disability, served on the Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom Service Members and Veterans VA Advisory Committee and currently serves on the Department of Veterans Affairs Prosthetics and Special Disabilities Advisory Committee.

“Adaptive reconditioning allows me to maintain a healthy and less stressful lifestyle which hopefully leads to a longer life,” Moore said. “It also allows me to have a level of fitness and confidence to coach my boys’ basketball and baseball teams, go out on stroll with my wife, and live long enough to see my grandkids and hopefully great grandkids.”

TSA Offers Wounded Warriors Additional Services to Ease Screening Experience at Airports

Spc. Chris Anderson steps off a plane, January 11, 2013, at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Photo Credit: SSG Lindsey Kibler

Spc. Chris Anderson steps off a plane, January 11, 2013, at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Photo Credit: SSG Lindsey Kibler

By:  LuAnn Georgia, Warrior Transition Command Stratcom Division
As summer approaches and more people are traveling, clearing airport security can get more frustrating and time consuming for everyone, especially for severely disabled Soldiers or Veterans who need extra assistance.  The Transportation Security Association (TSA) recognizes their responsibility for ensuring that screening for our wounded Soldiers and Veterans is conducted with empathy and respect.  In order to address the concerns of disabled travelers and simplify their screening process, TSA implemented the Wounded Warrior/Military Severely Injured Joint Support Operations Center Program.

The program expedites the screening process for severely injured servicemembers of the U.S. Armed Forces at airports nationwide.  Eligible servicemembers are escorted to and through checkpoints.  In addition, TSA no longer requires them to remove hats, caps, light jackets, or shoes.  Screening information for travelers regarding specific disabilities such as: prosthetics, visual or hearing impairments, internal medical devices, travel with service dogs, use of wheelchairs, and more can be found on the TSA website.  It is worth noting that special accommodations do not apply to travel companions and they will still need to go through the standard screening process.

Other time saving options available for disabled travelers include completing a Disability Notification Card for Air Travel and enrolling in TSA Pre✓™, a prescreening program that allows the traveler to disclose personal information ahead of time.  Both of these options can help eliminate hassles at the airport and are especially valuable to the frequent traveler.  More information about these services can be found at www.TSA.gov.

In order to receive the expedited service offered by TSA, the wounded warrior or a travel companion must contact the Military Severely Injured Joint Services Operations Center via email at MSIJSOC@dhs.gov or by phone (888.262.2396) at least 24 hours prior to travel.  This lead time allows TSA time to coordinate travel support at each location and helps to ensure a quicker and more favorable experience at the airport.

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Warriors in Transition can submit a blog by e-mailing WarriorCareCommunications [at] conus.army.mil.