By Charmain Z. Brackett, Correspondent, Fort Gordon SignalJune 22, 2009
Judie Thompson has used sports to help disabled adults in the Augusta community for many years. Now, she's working with the Warrior Transition Battalion to assist Soldiers.
"There are four things we work on with re-integrating them or returning to duty," said Thompson, who has been occupational therapy supervisor for the WTB since April. "Sports and leisure activities are helpful in teaching them life skills."
While working at Walton Rehabilitation Hospital a few years ago, Thompson, the wife of Army chaplain, Lt. Col. Mark Thompson, worked with disabled people through Blaze Sports. Her teams won the Blaze Sports National's distinguished club of the year in 2006.
She has also worked with the area organization, Champions Made from Adversity, whose most famous athlete is Scott Winkler, an Iraqi War Veteran who won Paralympic gold medals.
"Our goal is for every Soldier who comes here to be involved in at least two fitness programs. We put a therapeutic twist on things," she said.
With collaborations with individuals and other organizations, there are numerous activities for Soldiers to take part in.
There's basketball, tennis, golf, swimming, air rifle, kayaking and goal ball, a sport designed for blind individuals. Winkler even assists with programs.
"He's a great motivator," she said.
Lt. Col. Everett Sharpe, battalion commander, said the job Thompson and the other therapists do is important to Soldiers' recovery and, it helps as much with their mental rehabilitation as with their physical, he said.
"They get a mindset of going to (medical) appointments; the therapy part is critical," he said.