Zeroing in: Soldier competes in Warrior Games
May 19, 2011
FORT JACKSON, S.C., May 19, 2011 -- What worried Sgt. 1st Class Benjamin Trescott most was breathing. With an altitude of more than 6,000 feet above sea level, breathing in Colorado Spring, Colo., requires faster, deeper breaths than breathing in Columbia,S.C.
When you are shooting a high-powered rifle at a target roughly the size of the letter "i" in the middle of "this" word, that could be a problem.
Trescott, who is currently assigned to Warrior Transition Unit at Fort Jackson, S.C., is hoping to bring home the gold as part of the Army's shooting team at this year's Warrior Games. Already, he has made it to the finals in the air rifle open category, one of only two from the Army team who made the Top 8.
The 22-year Army veteran beat out more than 100 others vying for a spot to represent the Army - and Fort Jackson - during tryouts at Fort Benning, Ga., in February.
"I couldn't feel prouder and be happier for the honor," Trescott said of being selected. "Not just to represent Fort Jackson, but the command team and the Warrior Transition Unit. It's a good feeling. It feels good to give something back to the installation that is helping me heal."
Trescott, who has been at Fort Jackson since 2008, suffers from various back and shoulder injuries. He's had both shoulders reconstructed and also suffers from migraines. In addition to the physical injuries, he has symptoms of both traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Trescott credits a long list of folks, from his doctor, to his case manager, to his command team, and even the 171st Infantry Brigade command sergeant major, for helping him overcome his injuries to be able to compete.
"I wouldn't be here right now if it weren't for the good command team of the Warrior Transition Unit and Moncrief (Army Community Hospital)," he said. "There (are) a lot of people who pulled together and made this possible."
"I pull the trigger, but mentally and psychologically, those guys did it," he said. "I'm very grateful. In 22 years in my military career, I've never had the support I have now in the WTU."
In addition to medical and emotional support, he also worked with biofeedback professionals who helped him refine his breathing technique.
"They help you get in tune with your mind and control your breathing and your heart rate and make everything calm," he said.
He added, "It's a system that regulates your heart rate, your oxygen level in your blood, your breathing, your mind, your mood. Basically, you have to bring all of those parameters into trying to shoot."
Those techniques turned out to be crucial. In an interview during the warriors' practice week in Colorado, Trescott said he was still getting used to the change in altitude, which made breathing difficult.
"The acclimation is one of the hardest things," he said.
The shooting, however, is nearly second nature.
"I've shot every weapon that's available to an infantryman from the day I joined the Army until present day," he said. "I come from the country, so I'm kind of a pretty good shot."
The Warrior Games pits 200 wounded warriors from across the services in both individual and team sports. In addition to the shooting category, servicemembers compete in cycling, sitting volleyball, track & field, wheelchair basketball, archery and swimming. Trescott will compete today in the shooting finals.
Capt. Karean Troy, Fort Jackson WTU commander, said she is not surprised that Trescott was selected to represent the Army.
"He's not just on the team, he's good at what he does," said Troy, who flew to Colorado to support Trescott. A platoon sergeant also traveled to Colorado to assist Trescott throughout the competition, and the hospital commander plans to attend the games' closing ceremonies Saturday.
Back at Fort Jackson, Trescott has a whole host of supporters rooting for him.
Jeanette Mathis, a dental assistant at Hagen Dental Clinic, is among them.
"He's been a longtime patient of ours and he's just a really great guy," she said. And while he started as a hesitant patient, Trescott has become a friend, she said.
Though Mathis could not attend the games, she is able to be there, at least in proxy.
"He said he needed a good luck charm," she said.
And though he said it jokingly, Mathis provided him one: her great-grandfather's decorative gold pocket watch.
"This couldn't have happened to a nicer person at a better time," Mathis said. "They're our friends, not just patients and he's one that stands out."
WTU 1st Sgt. Timothy Miller also said that Trescott stood out.
"When Sgt. 1st Class Trescott came to the WTU he came to me and said, 'First sergeant, what can I do help you out'' Miller recalled. "That really impressed me. It showed that he had selfless service. That spoke a lot to me of his professionalism."
And although Trescott was assigned to the WTU to heal, Miller said that Trescott never lost his professional bearing as a noncommissioned officer, constantly looking for ways to help.
"A lot of the warriors, and rightfully so, (are) concerned about taking care of their illnesses and their injuries. They're concerned about getting hurt more, injuring themselves. But (Sgt. 1st Class) Trescott put his injuries to the side and said, 'I can do this.'"
Miller and Troy both said that competing is not only positive for Trescott, but also shows other wounded warriors that anything is possible.
"Even though they have (health) problems, they are able to overcome," Troy said. "It gives them a sense of pride, seeing (him compete)."
Miller added, "They're not broken. You can't go out there and be the Soldier you once were (but even) with injuries you still can achieve."
"All those great warriors who are out there participating, they're showing the rest of the country, 'Yes, I'm hurt, yes, I may have lost a limb, but that's not stopping me," Miller explained. "'I'm going full speed ahead and there's nothing in this world that can stop me.'"