Team Army Nation is ready to take Orlando by storm.

By MaryTherese GriffinApril 3, 2024

Team Army Nation is ready to take Orlando by storm.
(Photo by MaryTherese Griffin)

Team Army Nation at the 2022 Department of Defense Warrior Games in Orlando! (Photo Credit: MaryTherese Griffin)

FALLS CHURCH, Va. - Fans at sporting events are a no-brainer for sports teams. Soldier athletes competing at the 2024 Department of Defense Warrior Games at Disney's ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex in Orlando June 21-30th can rest easy knowing that Team Army Nation will be there in full force. They are the force behind the force, encouraging them every step of the way.

"At the Warrior games, having that support will make them want to push and strive for greatness. They couldn't be where they are without the support from their family and friends, and hopefully, now the fans they've gained," said Jaralyn Ditlevson, one of the newest members of Team Army Nation whose husband, Team Army athlete Jeremy Ditlevson suffered an ischemic stroke in February of 2023. She says family and friends are crucial in her husband's remarkable recovery, regaining some speech, the ability to walk again, and partial upper body movement. Ditlevson lauded excellent fan support at the March 2024 Army Trials at Fort Liberty.

For members of Team Army, that fan base is like having an extra teammate in the competition. Team Army Nation offers the start of validation to the ones who sacrificed so much to be where they are today. Team Army athlete, retired 1st Lt. Chris Parks says support from fans and the team profoundly impacts his journey. "It means the world. When I lost my leg, I felt very alone and lost. Team Army welcomed me with open arms and showed me that a much bigger world exists. Hearing TEAM ARMY NATION cheering for me motivates me to push even harder, dig a little deeper, and come out on top! "

Park's wife, Amy, is also new to Team Army Nation and is excited about this year's games. "This will be my first national competition to cheer and support Chris. I'm honored to play a small part in encouraging all these military heroes!! They are ALL champions, whether they recognize it or not. "

Erin Blakley is no stranger to the games as her husband, who is a retired Army Spc. Gerald Blakley is back on Team Army this year. "I am so excited to be a part of Team Army Nation again this year! We have some amazing competitors representing this year. I hope everyone else is ready because Team Army is out to win!"

Jaralyn, Amy, and Erin all recognize the games are more than medals when they see their Soldiers' progress. Erin Blakely said it's about purpose. "The Warrior Games provide a new family, a new support system, and a new purpose. My husband experienced an injury that then manifested into more. He went from being highly active and getting ready for deployment to being dependent on a wheelchair. I have seen firsthand the impact that Warrior Games has had on his mental health, ultimately getting him back on his feet and finding purpose in life.

Make no mistake: members of Team Army Nation know they have a job to do. Blakley says they hope their enthusiasm is contagious and invite anyone who wants to support our wounded, ill, and injured military members to come to Orlando June 21- 30th. "We are not just cheering for Team Army, but all who have preserved and overcame. But…Go, Team Army!" said Amy Parks.