By Valecia L. Dunbar, D.M., Army Medicine Public AffairsMay 2, 2013
The Warrior Games showcases the resilient spirit of today's wounded, ill, and injured service members from all branches of the military. After overcoming significant physical and behavioral injuries, these men and women demonstrate the power of ability over disability and the spirit of
Since 2010, nearly 200 wounded, ill, and injured service members and Veterans have competed annually at the Warrior Games, a unique partnership between the Department of Defense and U.S. Olympic Committee Paralympic Military Program. Athletes compete in sitting volleyball, wheelchair basketball, swimming, cycling, track & field, archery and competitive shooting. Gold, silver and bronze medals are awarded to the athletes or team members who place 1st, 2nd or 3rd in their events respectively.
Warrior Games is about more than winning medals -- it's about overcoming challenges to celebrate accomplishments. Each competing athlete tells a story of triumph, regardless of whether they stand on the podium.
Warrior Game Trials
As part of the Army's Warrior Games selection process, the Warrior Transition Command hosted Warrior Games trials at Fort Bliss and El Paso, Texas, March
4-8, 2013, and at Fort Belvoir, Va., from Feb. 25 to March 1, 2013. The cycling, shooting, and swimming trials follow the archery, and track & field trials hosted by the Warrior Transition Command at Fort Belvoir, Va., from Feb. 25 to March 1.
One Soldier who has set his sights on competing at the upcoming Warrior Games is Army Veteran Chad Mcduffee, who was injured in 2006 when an improvised explosive device struck his vehicle in a province near Baghdad, Iraq.
"I couldn't see myself doing anything except sitting at home, but Warrior Games has given me the chance to really compete again," said Mcduffee. After originally being misdiagnosed, Mcduffee received a necessary surgery for his leg injury in 2011. Despite the injury, he found a new attitude in life.
"Again, I have something to work toward, and this has given me a new outlook," he explained. "Before I found out about adaptive sports, I was kind of depressed," said Mcduffee. "I've always been very competitive and wanted to beat everyone in everything, so when I was injured I thought all of that was over."
Mcduffee, who retired as a staff sergeant after 11 years of service, carries a kettle bell named "Beyonce" to help strengthen his throwing arm during competitions.
If selected, Dcduffee will compete in the sitting discus and sitting shot-put competitions.
"When I first learned about Warrior Games, I looked at last year's scores and knew that's what I had to beat," Mcduffee said. "With the help of Beyonce, I've practiced, and now I'm throwing better than the person who won gold last year."
The 2013 Warrior Games will be held at the U.S. Olympic Training Center and the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., on May 11-16, 2013. More than 200 wounded, ill, and injured service members and Veterans are expected to participate in 2013, comprising five U.S. teams representing
the Air Force, Army, Navy and Coast Guard, Marine Corps and special operations forces, as well as one team from the United Kingdom. Teams will compete in archery, cycling, competitive shooting, sitting volleyball, wheelchair basketball, swimming, and track & field with hopes of being awarded a gold, silver, or bronze medal.
Additionally, the armed service that brings the most medals will receive the Chairman's Cup.
Athletes can also compete for the title of Ultimate Champion. This is a Pentathlon-style format designed to pit Warriors against each other in a variety of disciplines. Points are earned in each discipline, and the athlete collecting the most points is named Ultimate Champion.
Kevin Stone has worked with the U.S. Olympic Committee's Paralympic Military Program since 2005 and used his skills and expertise to train wounded, ill, and injured service members to use adaptive sports as a part of their rehabilitation. Today, two-time Paralympian and Army Veteran is doing
what he loves best as the head coach for the Army archery team.
"I started my rehabilitation by using the adaptive sport of shooting and later crossed over to the sport of archery," said Stone.
"It has been an honor to have been able to serve as an athlete, it's even more of an honor to serve our athletes as a coach and mentor," said Stone.
Before and After Warrior Games
Training and accession clinics are important preparation programs for Warrior Games and beyond for those who go on to compete in The U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) Paralympic Military & Veteran
Programs. These programs provide postrehabilitation support and mentoring to American servicemen and women who've sustained physical injuries such as traumatic brain injury, spinal cord
injury, amputation, visual impairment/ blindness, and stroke. Veterans are introduced to adaptive sport techniques and opportunities through clinics and camps and are also connected with ongoing Paralympic sport programs in their hometowns.
"Overall, we have conducted more than 15 training and accession clinics to prepare our athletes for competition during the 2013 Warrior Games," said Master Sgt. Jarrett Jongema, noncommissioned officer in charge, Adaptive Sports & Reconditioning Branch, Warrior Transition Command.
"Army athletes have received the best training possible from some of the top subject matter experts in their sports," said Jongema.
Stone has a record of success with focused training and competition in the sport of archery. He won his first bronze medal as part of the U.S. Paralympics' historic team event at the 2004 Paralympics in Athens. At the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing, he set two U.S. records in the initial qualification
rounds using the recurve bow.
The archery clinics were modeled as if they were training at an Olympic Center or before a National Championship tournament and music was used to relax the troops during practice and while
"The experienced troops did not miss a beat and the inexperienced troops were given separate and individual instruction before rejoining the main body," said Stone. "This practical immersion worked
and was apparent in the scores they provided."
"From the start, our athlete's focused on shooting the best shots they possibly could regardless of their skill level. Some came in with the knowledge required, while others had to be taught," said
Mcduffee is also looking to make history as a paralympic athlete. He plans to attend the 2013 U.S. Paralympics Endeavor Games in June and hopes to participate in the next Paralympics.
"I want nothing more than to wear the red, white, and blue and serve my country again," he said.