By Annette Coward, Warrior Transition CommandMarch 1, 2016
FORT BLISS, Texas (March 1, 2016) -- For Spc. Stephanie Morris, participating at Army Trials 2016 is about more than just competition. It's a way for her to honor her friends and those Soldiers from her unit who died when they were hit by indirect fire in Afghanistan, June 18, 2013.
"I often have flash backs like it was yesterday. It stays with you. I struggled for years. But I also use it as my motivation," Morris said. "When I get down and feel really low, I push through. I push through for them," She added.
One of her roommates died and two others were severely injured from the blast. Morris fractured her left femur and her right foot.
Morris was immediately air lifted to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. The Toledo, Ohio, native received a Purple Heart for injuries sustained in the line of duty, June 20, 2013.
"I was deeply honored to receive the award. It's more than just a ribbon and another award," Morris said. "However, the reality is, I would give it back if I could just get my unit back. You build such strong bonds with these people. They were my second family."
Morris was sent to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to begin her recovery, June 23, 2013.
"The recovery process was, and still is, very difficult. I initially didn't want the support, but I've come a long way. I realized the people at the Warrior Transition Unit are here to help me." She said. "Initially I was stubborn. Here I was an athlete all my life and now I'm limited. I didn't know what to do with those feelings."
Morris began participating in adaptive reconditioning sports for motivation. She found herself participating in recreational wheelchair basketball and sitting volleyball.
"Wheelchair basketball and sitting volleyball are my new normal," she laughed. "The social and physical therapy is awesome. Sports has a way of taking my mind off stressful situations. My motivation comes from my heroes lost," she said.
Today, Morris is competing for a chance to represent Team Army at the 2016 Department of Defense Warrior Games. She hopes to compete in several events including wheelchair basketball and sitting volleyball.
Morris says participating in Warrior Games is a metaphor for the way she now lives her life. "It's all part of God's plan. You learn from it or you let it break you," Morris said. "You keep pushing or you fall. I chose to keep pushing through this competition."
The Army Trials are being held at Fort Bliss, March 6 -10. More than 100 wounded, ill and injured Soldiers and veterans are competing for a spot on Team Army. The Department of Defense Warrior Games will be held at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York, June 14-22.