By Whitney Delbridge Nichels, Warrior Care and TransitionJuly 3, 2017
CHICAGO -- In early 2016, Spc. Jay Marquiss was like any other young Soldier working towards a rewarding military career.
The Utah native was stationed in Kuwait working as a heavy equipment operator when suddenly he developed a splitting headache.
"I was in a lot of pain, and it just kept getting worse and worse," he said.
After about six days with no relief, Marquiss went to the Troop Medical Clinic where he received a shocking diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes.
The 26 year old began receiving treatment, but was determined to stay with his unit.
Those hopes were shattered days later when Marquiss was found unresponsive after going into hypoglycemic shock.
"It was tough. I really didn't want to go back [home], but they feared that the triple digit heat in Kuwait could kill me," Maquiss said.
Going into the Warrior Transition Battalion at Fort Carson, Colorado was not part of his plans.
"I felt like my diagnosis was really going to put a damper on achieving my goals," Marquiss said. "I didn't really feel like I had a purpose in the WTB. I was just there to get treatment and get through it."
That changed when he was introduced to archery - a sport he had not participated in since Boy Scouts.
"I loved it. I had a lot of fun and started getting good. One of the cadre made a joke, 'maybe you can go to Warrior Games,' and I took that as a challenge."
With a new objective in mind, Marquiss also picked up swimming, and later, field events.
"I had actually never tried field until I got to Army Trials," Marquiss said. "I just decided to try something new."
That willingness to explore new activities is something the WTB promotes for all athletes.
"[WTB leaders] do whatever they can to help us try anything we want to try so we're not stuck in our mundane routine," Marquiss said. "Adaptive sports really gave me a new challenge and a new purpose."
After training multiple days a week, Marquiss was finally ready to make his mark at Warrior Games.
But he was hit with another setback during the first few days of the event.
Due to changes in team roster requirements, Marquiss was removed from archery before he ever reached the line. Three days later, he got the call that he'd been removed from field competition as well.
In the face of disappointment, the first time participant remained resilient.
"I was a little upset," he said. "But I'm just happy to be here and happy to support my teammates. It's one Army, one fight."
Taking the news in stride, Marquiss says he's glad he can focus all of his attention on swimming - his best event.
And he's also set his sights on a larger goal.
"This gives me a head start on next year. With adaptive sports, I have something to push for and achieve. I'm going to be pushing for next year's Warrior Games and then I want to make the Invictus team. All of that continues to give me purpose, and I will never stop trying.