By William Selby,
DoDNews, Defense Media Activity
U.S. service members have been fighting wars for the better part of the last 25 years. That’s why it’s extremely important to provide them with the care they deserve when they return home. November 16, at Joint Base Andrews, several wounded warriors played wheelchair rugby to qualify for the Invictus Games in May.
Service members representing all four military services and Special Operations Command participated during this all day event to bring awareness and amplify warrior care.
“We’re highlighting warrior care and the importance of adaptive and rehabilitative sports in the recovery process for wounded, injured and ill airmen and other service members,” said Shawn Sprayberry, communications coordinator for the Air Force Wounded Warrior program.
In addition to highlighting warrior care, the weeklong events aim to introduce wounded warriors to other adaptive sports and rehabilitative sports such as sitting volleyball, provide employment, caregiver support, and mentorship training to all injured service members. These adaptive sports have provided those disabled with an opportunity to be around others with similar challenges while also providing a physical outlet.
Army Sgt. Monica Southall, who has competed in both the Warrior and Invictus Games, said adaptive sports gave her the opportunity to continue being an athlete. “Mentally, it has helped me a lot,” she said. “When I first came home, I didn’t want to be bothered and was a recluse. Since participating in both the Invictus Games and Warrior Games it has opened me up to be more active and more open with people which has made all the difference in the world in my recovery.”
Bob Lujano, a paralympic athlete medalist, motivational speaker and author, was on hand to support the veterans and echoed the comments made by Southall.
“I think the most important aspect is it provides another outlet for recreation and competitive sport for people with disabilities,” said Lujano. “The more adaptive sports there are the more choices people have to improve the quality of their life.”
The Warrior Care Month games continue this week with a sitting volleyball tournament at the Pentagon Thursday.