The road to the 2019 Department of Defense Warrior Games
By: Lee M. Packnett, Warrior Care and Transition

SCHOFIELD Barracks, Hi. - More than 100 wounded warriors from the Atlantic, Central and Pacific Regional Health Commands arrived at Schofield Barracks Warrior Transition Battalion to compete in eleven sports: swimming, archery, shooting, air rifle and pistol, track, field, rowing, cycling, powerlifting, wheelchair tennis, wheelchair basketball and sitting volleyball. In addition to the individual and team events, several cultural events are planned, including paddle boarding, outrigger canoeing, tours to Pearl Harbor and the Polynesian Cultural Center, and a visit from the Kansas City Chiefs Cheerleaders. An Eagle Scout sponsored blood drive in support of Warrior Care Month is also scheduled.

Participants will receive coaching and assessments from a team of experts in each individual sport to determine their eligibility to move on to the Army Trials scheduled for next spring at Fort Bliss, Texas. At the Army Trials, they will compete to become members of Team Army at the 2019 DoD Warrior Games hosted by Special Operations Command in Tampa, Florida June 21 to 30.

The Warrior Games were established in 2010 as a way to enhance the recovery and rehabilitation of wounded, ill and injured service members and expose them to adaptive sports. The Games encourage them to stay physically active when they return to their local communities, and inspire and promote opportunities for growth and achievement.

This year's Regional Trials is the first in which Soldiers and veterans from each of the three regions will train and compete together. Lt. Col. Erik Kjonnerod, Battalion Commander of the Schofield Barracks WTB, welcomed the participants to Hawaii by providing each with a traditional lei during a meet and greet social at the Soldier and Family Assistance Center. During the social, organizers introduced coaches from each individual sport and provided a brief glimpse into their association with the Army and adaptive sports.

Mr. John Register, former NCAA Track and Field champion, Desert Storm/Shield Veteran, Paralympian and motivational speaker, provided words of wisdom to the participants by telling his story of how he developed his new normal after becoming an amputee and began using adaptive sports in his recovery and rehabilitation.

These Pacific Regional competitions with a Hawaiian Island flavor take place during November, which also coincides with Warrior Care Month. During Warrior Care Month, Warrior Transition Units focus on activities that allow them to communicate the Army's commitment to wounded, ill, and injured soldiers, their families, and caregivers, and to emphasize Warrior Transition Unit Soldiers' number one priority: to work as hard on their recovery as they work on defending the nation.