By MaryTherese Griffin, Warrior Care and TransitionFebruary 15, 2018
ARLINGTON, Va. -- Nearly the entire world's attention, in some way, is focused on the Winter Olympics Games happening right now in PyeongChang, South Korea. Most likely you've watched some of the television coverage and seen the stories of Olympians' journeys to the Games. You have seen the disappointment of defeat and the joy of victory. You have seen what it means to work hard be "that" kind of athlete. For Sgt. 1st Class Hyoshin Cha, who goes by Gabi, she can relate to "that", but on a different level and with a military twist.
Cha supported wounded warrior athletes last year at Army Trials and the Department of Defense Warrior Games in Chicago as a member of the support staff. Having gone to the Warrior Games as Cadre, she already knows "that" feeling a wounded, injured or ill athlete has. "It's not about what you CAN'T do, but what you CAN and WILL do."
Now, Cha has found herself on the other side. While deployed to Iraq, the Medical Logistics Specialist injured her back and hip and also developed a blood disorder in the process. She is now a Soldier in transition at the Warrior Transition Battalion, Fort Bliss, Texas working through her recovery and participating in adaptive sports.
"The hardest part of recovery is being limited and told what I can and cannot do. In the military, we get accustomed to pushing ourselves, and not so much taking a knee."
Later this month at the 2018 Army Trials, Cha will get the chance to show the coaches and staff what she can do in the pool, on the range and on the wheelchair basketball court. The goal for Cha is not only returning to duty, but loading herself with confidence to face the world as a different athlete and a future nurse.
Cha says despite what illness or injury one may be going through, the hardest part is initially getting up, getting out and being active again. "Once you start, and you realize what motivates you, you just have to keep going. I hope others will see that when they watch the Games, they can do it too."
As she attempts to attend Warrior Games as an athlete this year, Cha has held on to what she saw and experienced in Chicago as a staff member. "It lit a spark within me to open my eyes to adaptive sports, and the people I have come across. It makes you feel like …a different level. It's almost like when a civilian asks a service member what it's like to be in the military. They don't understand it, they just see it. When someone asks about Warrior Games that hasn't been or hasn't even thought about adaptive sports, they don't really understand it. But when they watch the competition, or even attend Warrior Games, they can FEEL it. Warrior Games, changes lives. Not one at a time, but many lives at a time. It doesn't get much better than that."