Fort Bragg sled hockey program promotes fitness, recreation
Soldiers play sled hockey Wednesday at Cleland Ice Rink. The wounded warriors were taking part in the Warrior Activity Recreational Sports program which provides therapeutic activities and is conducted in collaboration with the Warrior Transition Battalion, Womack Army Medical Center and FMWR.

FORT BRAGG, N.C. - For Walter Williams, who was injured in a rollover accident in Iraq in 2009, being active in the Warrior Activity Recreational Sports program, he said, reminds him of his potential as an active-duty Soldier.

Williams joined fellow wounded warriors, Wednesday, for sled hockey at Cleland Ice Rink, off Reilly Street.

Williams talked about the importance of taking part in sled hockey.

"It opens your eyes and lets you know there's still stuff you can do, even though you are injured," he said.

Sled hockey is a dynamic sport that empowers wounded warriors during their recovery and allows them to get back to a sense of normalcy, said Mike Adams, of Third Group, Civil Affairs Battalion.

Sled hockey fulfills goals of the WARS program -- to increase endurance and strength.

Other activities available through the program include instruction in yoga, tai chi, aquatics, circuit training and spin classes, said Theresa Shields, therapeutic recreation specialist, Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation. Upcoming classes might include wheelchair basketball, cycling and sitting volleyball.

WARS, according to the FMWR website, is conducted in collaboration with the Warrior Transition Battalion, Womack Army Medical Center and FMWR, and is facilitated by certified staff and volunteers.

Jeffrey Brunelle, who was medically evacuated from Iraq with back and neck injuries in 2009, said he began playing ice hockey in little league in his native Florida. An 11-year veteran, Brunelle works to maintain physical fitness and seemed to enjoy sled hockey with other wounded warriors at Cleland Ice Rink.

"It's fun. It's awesome. I'm having a blast," Brunelle said.
Being able to play builds teamwork and incorporates a lot of exercise.

Eric Strauchler has played some of the alternative sports that Shields said might come to Fort Bragg, including wheelchair basketball and sitting volleyball.

Assigned to Fort Bragg's WTB last November, Strauchler also seemed to like familiarizing fellow Soldiers with sled hockey.

"I like helping out wherever I can," Strauchler said.

According to Shields, as sled hockey becomes more popular, there is the possibility that the post could offer league play and establish a Fort Bragg team. "We're expecting it to grow to the point where there is a waiting list," Shields said.

For a myriad of reasons, from therapeutic to building socialization skills, the WARS program aids wounded warriors.

"It gets guys out of the barracks and away from the medical stuff to have some fun," said Brunelle.

For more information about the WARS program, visit www.fortbraggmwr.com or call 643-8077.

Page last updated Fri October 28th, 2011 at 00:00