COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — As the fog rises over the track and the mist hovers above the pool, a special group of American Airmen are set to compete for athletic glory, service bragging rights and the opportunity to represent the U.S. Air Force at the 5th-Annual Warrior Games.
The games began Sept. 28, and for seven days, 40 Air Force veteran athletes will compete head-to-head within various adaptive sports for the 5th-Annual Warrior Games alongside more than 210 other warriors from the Air Force’s sister services, taking place at the Olympic Training Center, Fort Carson and Garry Barry Stadium at Wasson High School in Colorado Springs, Colo.
The Warrior Games were first introduced in 2010 and are hosted by the U.S. Olympic Committee as an introduction to adaptive sports for wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans, to encourage them to stay physically active when they return home after their injuries.
“These athletes are the epitome of resiliency, and show what it truly means to be American Airmen,” said Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Mark A. Welsh III. “Betty and I wish the Air Force Warrior Games team the best of luck and know that they will make our Air Force and our nation proud.”
Service members and veterans expected to participate in 2014 will comprise five U.S. teams representing the Army, Marine Corps, Navy/Coast Guard, Air Force and Special Operations.
The long journey to the games is often a stepping stone in the recovery process. Warriors train year-round for the competition by attending structured camps and clinics offered by the individual service’s wounded warrior program, in partnership with the Office of Warrior Care Policy Military Adaptive Sports Program.
The athletes enroll into the Air Force Adaptive Sports program, a part of the Air Force Wounded Warrior program, which was created to bring adaptive sports to wounded, ill and injured Airmen to enhance their recovery, rehabilitation and quality of life.
AFW2 and the team coaches use these adaptive sports to include; recumbent cycling, sitting volleyball, wheelchair basketball, archery/air rifle, swimming, kayaking, track/field events, and many other individual and team sports to focus on the recovering service member and their lifestyles.
“Taking care of our Airmen has and always will be a top priority. We need to make sure every Airman has the care and support they need to maintain a high quality of life,” said Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Cody. “The Adaptive Sports Program is an excellent program that does that for our wounded, ill and injured Airmen. We’re thankful to each of our athletes and the selfless coaches who dedicate their time and effort to give them what they need to fully recover.”
To qualify for the Warrior Games the athletes sparred during the Air Force trials at Nellis AFB, Nevada, where they also competed to be one of the 21 Airmen selected for the U.S. team at the Invictus games, which were held in the United Kingdom earlier this month.
The Airmen who are competing in the 2014 Warrior Games representing the U.S. Air Force are: