WEST POINT, N.Y. (June 6, 2016) -- After many months of planning and coordination with many moving parts, sister services, and one of the U.S. allies, the troops for Team Army have landed. It is not the Normandy invasion; it is the arrival of Team Army athletes at the United States Military Academy at West Point from across the country, preparing to compete in the 2016 Department of Defense Warrior Games.
Approximately 250 athletes will represent the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Special Operations Command and the United Kingdom Armed Forces. They will compete for gold, silver and bronze medals in archery, cycling, track, field, sitting volleyball, shooting, swimming and wheelchair basketball.
Sgt. 1st Class Michael Smith, the Team Army support staff noncommissioned officer in charge, was there to greet them as they stepped off of the bus. "Just to be able to help the athletes and to facilitate the healing process is an honor," said Smith.
Staff Sgt. Carlton Duncan, also a member of the support staff, agreed. "To be on this side of the reception and integration [process], at times we're overwhelmed with joy to see the smiles as the athletes step off of the bus," said Duncan.
Both Smith and Duncan are former Warrior Games athletes.
The year-long process for the athletes to get to the Warrior Games is both rehabilitative and competitive. The starting point is at the unit level where Soldiers in Warrior Transition Units participate in adaptive reconditioning. They hear about the Warrior Games and decide to try out. Unit level competitions, progress to battalion level, regional level, then the top 150 Soldiers and Veterans compete at the Army Trials. Forty primary and five alternate athletes are selected to compete in the Warrior Games.
The Team Army athletes made their way through the process and finally stepped off of the bus at West Point. "They have that moment of joy when they can exhale because they can say, 'I'm here, there's nothing else between me and competing in the 2016 Warrior Games,'" said Duncan. "No more hurdles. No more requirements. I'm here!"