By Tim Poch, WTC Stratcom
The Warrior Games are part of a major effort to inspire success, to capitalize on physical fitness, and to promote new opportunities for growth and achievement among the Army’s Warriors in Transition. In summary, the Warrior Games encourage ability over disability not just in the area of athletics, but in all areas of a Warrior in Transition’s life.
Ability comes in many different forms and for each Warrior Games participant, ability often reaches levels far beyond his or her immediate post-injury expectations. LTC David Haines, a Warrior Transition Brigade (WTB) Commander at Fort Knox, KY, is no exception. He said, “Training for the Warrior Games gave me very specific goals and objectives. I was missing this direction before. The Warrior Games provided me the motivation to get back into the shape I was in before I was injured.” Haines will be competing in this year’s Warrior Games 30K cycling event.
Haines enlisted in the Army in 1983 as an Armor Crewman and received a commission in 1991 as an Armor Officer. He served both as an active duty Soldier and as a National Guardsman with tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
In October 2006, while on a mounted patrol in Baghdad, Iraq, Haines was in a vehicle when it was hit by an Explosively Formed Penetrator (EFP), causing severe injuries to his arm, hand, and leg, resulting in nerve damage. Three of his Soldiers were also injured and one died in the explosion. Returning to the United States, Haines received treatment at the Fort Knox WTB for approximately three years. Haines also received physical therapy and an opportunity to identify how to shape his life moving forward post-injury. Although these challenges changed the way Haines lives his life, they did not change the way he achieves his goals. For Haines, athletics became a motivator to reach other goals in life.
Sports have always been a favorite pastime for Haines. As a New England native, Haines participated in cold weather sports as a child. As he got older, however, he became passionate for road and mountain bike racing. Haines has competed at the amateur level and said returning to cycling was one of his major motivations during recovery and rehabilitation at the Fort Knox WTB. When asked why he was competing in the 2011 Warrior Games he responded, “I love to race bikes and hope to represent the Army and Warriors in Transition well. It is another milestone in my recovery.”
In order to prepare himself for the Warrior Games, Haines read Joe Friel’s “Training Bible for Cyclists” and used its best practices as a way to dedicate himself to training. Starting in December of 2010, he focused on achieving a competitive qualifying time for the games. He described his training as a series of “intense” workout sessions, five to six days a week, totalling to approximately 10-15 hours of training per week. In fact, in the process he lost 15 pounds. To compliment his training, Haines participated in the Ride2Recovery Texas Challenge, an organized bike ride from the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, TX to Dallas/Fort Worth, TX, to get, as Haines put it, “long intense days in the saddle.”
When asked what his major life achievements are he said, “Staying married for almost 22 years and having two great kids.” Haines was quick to add that his wife deserves most of the credit for both achievements. Athletically, Haines added that his first place finish at the Kansas State Category 5 Omnium Championship in 2004 and his second place finish in the 2005 Armed Forces Europe Mountain Bike Series, are among his top cycling achievements.
For the future, Haines plans to stay in the Army despite his eligibility to retire. Haines added that if he ever decides to leave the Army, there are two possibilities out there for him. Haines explained, “If I can make a living somewhere in the cycling industry or helping other wounded warriors, I am there!”
For more information on the 2011 Warrior Games please visit the Army Warrior Games Web page.