By Emily Anderson, WTC Stratcom
Everyone has a story and SSG Michael Lage is no different. After an improvised explosive device claimed the lives of the other members of his team, Lage sustained third degree burns over 35 percent of his body and a left hand and right thumb amputation. However, the sole survivor has a positive outlook on life and uses his experience in an important capacity as cadre at the Warrior Transition Unit (WTU,) Fort Sam Houston, Texas.
“I wanted to be a squad leader at a WTU because I know what the Soldiers are going through,” Lage said. “They want people who have experienced what they have.”
“I was hurt when I was 29, but many of these Soldiers are getting hurt at 18, 19 or in their early 20’s,” he added. “Many of them think life is over when they are injured, I’m there to show them that it’s not true and they can do whatever they want as long as they work at it.”
Lage is one of more than 40 athletes competing in the final sitting volleyball and archery trials hosted by the WTC on Fort Belvoir, VA, February 25-March 1 for a chance to represent the Army in archery, cycling, shooting and sitting volleyball during the 2013 Warrior Games.
“Warrior Games is a chance to be part of a group and be a team player,” Lage said. “It’s good to show that my door closed in one direction, but opened in another.”
During the 2011 and 2012 Paralympics Texas Regional competitions, he won first place when shooting with a mouth tab – a tab attached to the string used to assist the archer with pulling the bow. Also, in November, Lage cycled 500 miles from Wichita Falls, Kansas to Corpus Kristi, Texas.
Lage plans to use the knowledge and experiences he has gained to help the Soldiers in the Fort Sam Houston WTU.
“I’m the cadre in charge of the adaptive reconditioning at my company,” Lage said. “Regardless of the Soldiers performing adaptive sports and reconditioning activities, we are changing their lives.”
“We actually mandate five hours of physical activity per week,” he added. “I’m hoping once a Soldier is finished with the rehab portion, they’ll get into something that they are interested in and will keep them occupied.”
Regardless of how he does during the trials, Lage plans to continue his adaptive reconditioning journey by cycling 350 miles throughout France shortly after Warrior Games.