“Coming here was meant to be.”

By MaryTherese GriffinJune 20, 2024

2024 DOD Warrior Games
1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Jackie White of Syracuse, New York, stands in the lobby of her Orlando Hotel, excited about supporting Team Army at the 2024 DOD Warrior Games June 18, 2024. Service members and veterans from the Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy, U.S. Special Operations Command, and representatives from the Australian Defence Force are competing in adaptive sports including archery, cycling, indoor-rowing, powerlifting, shooting, sitting volleyball, swimming, track and field, wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby from June 21 – 30, at the Walt Disney World Resort. (U.S. Army photo by MaryTherese Griffin) (Photo Credit: MaryTherese Griffin) VIEW ORIGINAL
2024 DOD Warrior Games
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Pvt. Lawrence Spier (left) speaks with Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower. (U.S. Army photo courtesy Jackie White) (Photo Credit: Courtesy) VIEW ORIGINAL

ORLANDO, Fla., June 20, 2024 -- When Jackie White of Syracuse, New York, planned her family vacation to Orlando, she never in a million years thought it would be a moment to remember her Soldier-grandfather.

“We got to the hotel and saw all the excitement for the Warrior Games here in Orlando,” said White, who brought her 6 and 9-year-old grandchildren with her.

Thinking it would be a typical Orlando vacation, the Whites were in awe of Team Army staying in their hotel. They learned how wounded, ill, and injured service members, and participants from the Australian Defence Force were competing in the 2024 Department of Defense Warrior Games at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, June 21- 30.

“I think it was meant to be that we came here at this time and it's my grandpa's way of saying hello,” said White.

She had a photo of her grandfather, Army Pvt. Lawrence Spier, during World War II. He was serving under Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower at the time, standing and talking with the future president.

“He was in Japan and he was (serving) under Gen. Eisenhower,” she stated. “I see this photo and I am just so proud of him.”

White said her grandchildren are well aware of his service, so seeing all the Army support at their hotel was exciting for them. It was so exciting that they plan to add the Warrior Games competition to their agenda.

“They (White’s grandchildren) are used to this,” she explained. “We talk about the military in our home, but seeing all these Soldiers; they are very excited. It's something we didn’t expect to take home from vacation, but this could be the coolest thing we take home.”

White learned how today’s Soldiers recover and overcome through the Army Recovery Care Program and was thankful Soldiers have the support they need today.

“When my grandfather served, Soldiers were just sent home after battle to fend for themselves,” said White. They were strong men, and they overcame on their own, but I think they suffered internally and had no outlet. I believe what's happening here is so important and that we take care of our Soldiers.”

Looking forward to the competition, the family from New York has a message for the team: “Go, Team Army, we got this—all the way!”