Resilience and recovery: Injured father of two perseveres for DOD Warrior Games

By Shannon CollinsJune 17, 2015

Resilience and recovery: Injured father of two perseveres for DOD Warrior Games
(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT MEADE, Md. (Army News Service, June 16, 2015) -- For one cavalry scout, going into the military wasn't even a question. His family had served as far back as the Revolutionary War.

"It's almost like it's in my DNA," joked Sgt. Josh Wirth, a reconnaissance specialist serving at Fort Gordon, Georgia. "My grandpa was in the Marines, my uncles were in the Army, my great-grandpa was in the Army and my dad started in the Coast Guard, then the Navy and moved over to the Army Reserves so that he could raise me and my brother as a single dad. He served for 20 years."

During a deployment to Afghanistan in October 2013, multiple improvised explosive device blasts struck Wirth from behind, breaking his back in several places. Because of this, two discs in his lower back are fused, he has vision loss in his right eye, he has post-traumatic stress and he has a traumatic brain injury.

While recovering in the hospital in Landstuhl, Germany, doctors told Wirth he would never play basketball again.

"At first it was kind of a bummer, but then I was like, 'you know what? Bruce Lee ... came back from his injuries and became one of the most famous people in the world for his accomplishments.' He's an idol I can look up to," Wirth said. "I can still play basketball. I can't run long distance anymore, but I can sprint. Whenever I cycle, if I keep my form and arch my back, my back doesn't hurt at all."

Wirth said his injuries have made him more resilient.

"Resilience means being able to bounce back from whatever and that's where the camaraderie here at the Army Trials comes in," he said. "If one guy's down, you're going to help him pull his weight until he gets back to where he needs to be. You might be that guy next time and that one guy you help might be carrying you."

During the Army Trials on Fort Bliss, Texas, March 29-April 2, Wirth earned a silver medal in the men's discus, a bronze medal in the men's shot put, a bronze medal in the men's recurve in archery and his team did well in wheelchair basketball.

This year will be his first year representing the Army team at the 2015 Department of Defense Warrior Games on Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, June 19-28.

Throughout the games, wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans from the Army, Marine Corps, Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard will compete in track and field, shooting, swimming, cycling, archery, wheelchair basketball and sitting volleyball.

Wirth said cycling, archery and discus are his three favorite sports but his biggest motivation during the games will be his daughter, McKenley, 3, and son, Lincoln, 1.

"They're my motivation," he said. "I want my kids to be proud of me. I want them to see that even though I'm injured, I pushed through to compete."

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