By Annette P. Gomes Warrior Care and Transition
FORT BLISS, TX - There's no mistaking, retired U.S. Army Spc. Erin Holmes was destined for a career in the military.
"I didn't have to choose the military I was born with it in my DNA. I grew up an officer's kid and I'm a complete 100 percent 'Army Brat.' I knew how to apply camouflage before I knew how to put on lipstick," Holmes laughed.
The former Motor Transport Operator would follow in her parent's footsteps by joining the Army's Delayed Entry Program just before graduating high school.
"My parents fully supported my choice to enlist and signed on the dotted line right next to me at 17 years-old and I enlisted in March 2003. I left for basic training two days after turning 18," Holmes said. "I had the humbling experience of graduating from basic training on September 11, 2003, two years to the day after watching the terror attacks unfold," She added.
Approximately seven years later, Holmes' life changed forever after sustaining injuries during an Improvised Explosive Device while deployed in Iraq.
"I have TBI. In addition to this, I suffered two fractured discs, six compressed discs and two blown discs in my back, a torn labrum in my shoulder and hip (torn labrum with impingement). These injuries were sustained over 11 years of climbing in and out of (military vehicles)," Holmes said.
In 2013, Holmes' physical setbacks ended her military career. Determined to continue her once-active lifestyle, she became a high school track and field coach as a way of giving back to others.
"I don't think there is a scale for how competitive I am, so I'm definitely a 10! I've been an athlete all my life, I earned nine varsity letters in high school. I was number one in the state my senior year of high school in the women's discus and earned multiple all-star awards for shot put, discus, and field hockey, holding the conference record for 15 years in the women's discus. I was offered to compete on a collegiate level after high school. I swam competitively for 10 years, fenced on the national level, and trained in martial arts for 20 years," Holmes said. "After a hamstring injury, I lost the ability to compete in any high-impact sports, so I became a head coach for track and field events as well as field hockey. I love to help my athletes reach their personal best and can't wait to push myself and my teammates to reach theirs. Coaching has kept my love for my sports alive in my heart but as an athlete who didn't want to be done with their athletic career, it pales in comparison to putting on your team colors and taking the field as an athlete again," she explained.
She will now take her competitiveness to the 2019 Army trials at Fort Bliss, Texas. She will join nearly 100 wounded, ill or injured athletes competing for a spot for Team Army for the 2019 Department of Defense Warrior Games, June 21 - 30 in Tampa, Fla. Holmes will compete in shot put, discus, power lifting, and swimming events.
"I am absolutely ecstatic to be selected for Army Trials! This is my first foray into adaptive sports. I am just so excited to be able to be part of something bigger than myself again. Competing in the Army Trials means being part of something bigger than myself again. It means I get a piece of myself back that I never thought I would have again after my injuries," Holmes said. "The opportunity to meet other people who are pushing through hard times and disabling injuries while getting to share hardships and triumphs with a group of my peers means so much to me and my family. The sporting opportunity gives me back my fighting spirit and makes me not feel like I am alone in my struggles, which in turn gives my family back a part of me that has been missing for a long time."