By Andrea Stone, Fort CarsonMay 1, 2014
FORT CARSON, Colo. (May 1, 2014) -- It was three days of fun, games and competition, but with a purpose and an eye to the future.
The Warrior Transition Battalion Commander's Stakes games, April 15-17, were an opportunity for wounded warriors to compete, but also a chance for them to find their confidence again.
"When you come to the WTB (Warrior Transition Battalion), something happened. You're wounded, you're injured or you're ill," said Lt. Col. Aaron Termain, WTB commander. "Soldiers come with the sense that they've failed. When the Army sent them over here, they sent them over with a stack of paperwork telling them all the things they can't do."
The focus of the Commander's Stakes is to teach those Soldiers what they can do, Termain said.
"I can get you on a bike. If you're missing an arm, we can move the controls to the other side," he said. "There's very little that we can't adapt."
Spc. Joel Irwin, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, was one of the competitors.
"I've been able to run for the first time in two years after being injured overseas," he said.
The competition got heated at times.
"Sometimes it gets a little competitive because you're all in the same battalion, but overall it's good. It still draws us closer together in the end," said Staff Sgt. Vester Hasson, Headquarters and Headquarters Company.
In addition to building confidence as they learn to overcome challenges, the Commander's Stakes is an opportunity for Soldiers to prepare for the annual inter-service Warrior Games, in September.
When wounded warriors apply for the games, they have to turn in a packet, complete with times and scores for the events they compete in. Commander's Stakes is a chance to get those times, although the wind and rain proved challenging.
"Because of the weather situation this week, it was kind of hard to do some of the events that we needed," said Sgt. Sherry Snow, Company B. "The main thing is having times and scores that are validated by an official."
In order to qualify for Warrior Games, athletes need to be able to compete in multiple events.
"To get to the games, they want you to have two individual and one team event. So, if somebody's really good at archery, but that's all they're good at, they probably won't make the team," said Hasson, who's competed in the Warrior Games.
Sports and recreation is just one step in helping wounded Soldiers adapt.
"If we can't get you back in the fight, then we're going to prepare you for your transition back into the community. Now you can do these things, what else can you do?" Termain said. "This is a powerful tool that we (have) here."
The competition was also an opportunity for Termain to identify Soldiers who might be interested in training for the Warrior Games.
"We've already identified some potential talent," he said.