By Annette P. Gomes Warrior Care and TransitionFebruary 27, 2018
FORT BLISS, Texas-The taped message "Incoming missile this is not a drill," was very real and something Staff Sgt. Dorian Rhoten remembers very well. The year was 2002 and he was deployed to Kuwait. He received a phone call from his wife Nicole as the warning call rang out.
"It's unexplainable the feelings that creeps up. I did not want to get off the phone with my wife. In that moment I realized my mission to serve was not only about me, but my family and all the other families, simply fighting for their freedom. I realized you can't deploy with 100 percent of yourself, you leave a part with your family. This was a life changing moment," Rhoten said.
This was not the first time Rhoten experienced a life changing moment. As an avid sportsman, the Chicago native had his mind set on a career in professional sports, and after a short stint with the Chicago Bears during training camp, he was cut from the team. A few years with semi-pro football teams; the Honolulu Warriors and Killeen Knights soon followed but after nine years of playing, he realized it was time to get what he calls a "real job."
"It was a serious real reality check for me," said Rhoten. "I needed a job, no one would hire me and I had no education. To this day I preach to my children and extended family that education comes first. I didn't want them to fall into the same trap I did."
It was at this point Rhoten decided the military, or more specifically the Army, was the right choice for him.
I do know now that the Army was the best fit for me."
As he began his tenure in the military, as a topographic engineer, he found himself on the right track.
"My military leadership felt I was good with my hands and solutions," he said.
He would then navigate his way to becoming a Motor Transportation Specialist but after years of trainings, deployments and an improvised explosive device explosion, Rhoten found himself dealing with several back and knee injuries. He thought his day of being physically active was over, he soon realized couldn't be more wrong.
"I know that I'm blessed. Adaptive sports have been an answer to a prayer. I've always loved sports and adaptive sports provided that outlet for me," he said.
Rhoten is currently competing with more than 73 other wounded, ill, and injured athletes at Fort Bliss, Texas in the 2018 Army Trials March 3-8. These Soldiers and veterans will compete in 10 events where Rhoten's new prayer is to earn a spot on Team Army for the 2018 Department of Defense Warrior Games, June 2- 9 in Colorado Springs, Colo.
"I would be honored to represent Team Army," said Rhoten. "I know so many people that have been wounded and they think that they cannot participate in these games. I am here to tell them, 'yes you can.' You have to look those Soldiers in their eyes that have self-doubt and tell them never quit believing, find a way to believe in yourself."
Rhoten did not always believe in himself, he overcame his self-doubt while in the Army and found the passion that lies within.
"Four things I'm passionate about, my wife, church, children and enlisting in the Army," he said. "If you can't find blessings in that then something is wrong with you. You got to wake up this morning - you are in the glory - it's a blessing you faced a new day."