Warrior Games Instill Sense of Worth for Wounded Soldiers

May 13, 2010 Updated: October 1, 2015

U.S. Navy Parachute Rigger 3rd Class Michael Johnston bump passes the ball to a teammate during a sitting volleyball game against Army.  (Photo by MC1 R. Jason Brunson)
U.S. Navy Parachute Rigger 3rd Class Michael Johnston bump passes the ball to a teammate during a sitting volleyball game against Army. (Photo by MC1 R. Jason Brunson)
The first Warrior Games inspired the commander of the Warrior Transition Command to develop an annual Warrior Games Olympic event.

Warrior Games, an athletic competition lasting from May 10 to May 14, brings together 200 wounded, ill, and injured service members from various branches of the military to compete in nine events. Taking place at the US. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Warrior Games is put on by the US Department of Defense in cooperation with the U.S. Olympic Committee. The events include shooting, swimming, archery, sitting volleyball, cycling, track, wheelchair basketball, discus, and shot put.

The competition was established with the goal of improving the physical abilities of wounded, ill, and injured soldiers by providing them a focal point or goal to work toward. On a mental level, participation in a challenging competitive sport event such as this is believed to instill a sense that there is life after injuries for wounded servicemen and women. The event will also “demonstrate the continued role physical fitness can play in service members’ lives regardless of injury,” said a Warrior Transition Command, (WTC) press release.

Servicemen and women with upper or lower body injuries, spinal cord, and other traumatic injuries, and post-traumatic stress are eligible for participation in the games.

Brig. Gen. Gary H. Cheek, commander of WTC and assistant surgeon general of warrior care said that competing in athletic events gets the soldiers "out here, knocking heads, competing hard, doing things that are difficult. It gives a sense of purpose and reward."

The games followed the “Ride to Recovery” bike riding event, in which warriors participated in a 500-mile, cross-country bike ride.

In regard to the value of the games for the athletes, Robert E. Moore Jr., chief of Strategic Communications of WTC said, “A lot of what we are trying to do is show the value of not just competition, but of adaptive sports in the recovery, and [the] maximum potential these individuals can reach post injuries or wounds.”

Cheek spoke of plans for a grander, annual Olympic-style event, which would include the addition of more sporting categories, winter sports, and even the participation of U.S. allies.

"The number one thing I asked all of them to do was to take this flame—this Olympic torch, this spirit it has brought into them—back to their comrades who are also recovering and moving forward, and light that spark in them," the general said.