WTU promotes healing, camaraderie during Sports Week
March 7, 2014
3/5/2014 - FORT EUSTIS, Va. -- According to the Wounded Warrior Project, more than 40,000 Service members have been physically injured in Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom.
To aid in the recovery of those Service members, the U.S. Army established care programs for wounded, ill and injured Soldiers through its network of regional and community-based Warrior Transition Units.
At Fort Eustis, the Warrior Transition Unit, Alpha Company, facilitates recovery through events like its quarterly platoon Sports Week, held Feb. 21-27.
"Sports Week helps foster esprit de corps, while simultaneously bringing awareness to adaptive sports programs," said Sgt. 1st Class Lucas Pedigo , Headquarters Platoon, Alpha Co., Fort Eustis WTU platoon sergeant and event organizer. "Our goal is to help Soldiers seamlessly reintegrate back into their units or transition to civilian life, and activities like this support that."
The WTU's interim commander, Capt. Derek Strong, kicked off the events with motivational remarks.
"We're looking forward to a great [week] of events culminating in volleyball and football," Strong said. "This is a great opportunity to generate [healthy] competition and have fun, and I am eager to see what [you are all capable of]."
The week's adaptive-sports activities included archery, wheelchair football, seated volleyball, bean-bag toss , bowling and dominoes, all of which help strengthen unit cohesion and teamwork, said Spc. Thomas Cross, a transitioning Soldier assigned to the WTU's 3rd Platoon, Alpha Co.
"The activities boost morale between the platoons and help break the monotony," said Cross. "They allow you to kick back and have fun, which helps gives you something [positive] to focus on [while in recovery]."
A successful recovery process also involves the community, said Sammy Nates , WTU adaptive sports site coordinator. Several organizations specializing in wounded-veteran support were represented during Sports Week, including Wounded Wear, Team River Runner and Ride 2 Recovery.
"By having the organizations keep in touch with wounded Soldiers, it shows the community they are still able to function in society," he said. "It also reassures the Soldier, because in the Army, they are part of a team. Instead of feeling isolated if they transition to civilian life, it allows them to feel part of a different team."
Nates said teamwork is essential in the healing process, and the WTU will continue to host programs to support the approximately 120 wounded, ill and injured Soldiers currently assigned.
"The adaptive sports and other programs provide therapeutic healing," he said. "Just because a Soldier is injured, it's not the end of the road - it gives them an opportunity to learn something different and develop new strengths to further assist in their recovery."