By Cody T. StarkenMay 1, 2012
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Army News Service, April 30, 2012) -- First Lady Michelle Obama and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff welcomed wounded warriors from all branches of the military to the third annual Warrior Games April 30, at the Olympic Training Center here.
"I wanted to recognize all of our troops, veterans and military families who are here today," said Obama. "We have folks from the Army, the Navy, the Coast Guard, Air Force and the Marines Corps. It's just breathtaking. "
More than 200 wounded, ill and injured athletes from around the services will compete for gold in seven sports from April 30 to May 5 at the Warrior Games. The Army has 50 athletes competing this year.
"On behalf of the United States military and the Department of Defense, welcome to the 2012 Warrior Games," said Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin E. Dempsey.
The 2012 Warrior Games' events include: swimming, shooting, archery, sitting volleyball, cycling, track and field, and wheelchair basketball.
"To the athletes, these games are not only about proving what you can do to the world; it's about proving what you can do for yourselves," Dempsey said.
Obama said as the first lady one of the best parts about her job is spending time with service members and their families. She gets to see their strength and determination first hand, she explained.
"You don't just tell me you are going to walk again, but run marathons. No matter how seriously injured, no matter what obstacles, or setbacks you face, you just keep moving forward," Obama said. "You just keep pushing yourself to succeed in ways that mystify and leave us in awe."
She summed up her feelings for the athletes with a few simple words: "I am humbled and inspired."
The Warrior Games give a chance for Soldiers to show the resilient spirit of today's wounded, ill and injured service members, Dempsey said.
"For me, these games embody the enduring resilience of our profession because your commitment to teamwork and determination and to persevere during these games are the very same qualities that led you to serve your nation and make our military great," he said.
The Army currently has about 10,000 wounded, ill and injured Soldiers and veterans in Warrior Transition Units and the Army Wounded Warrior Program. Their ranks include service members who suffered amputations, spinal cord injuries, visual impairment, traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Although Dempsey is the top military official for the Department of Defense, he reminded the audience who he was cheering for.
"I know I have to be neutral about this, but I hope the winner 'goes rolling along,'" Dempsey said.
He added that it will still be a great honor that the cup bearing the symbol of his office will be hoisted by a champion, no matter who wins.
Obama told the competitors that the first lady and president will be cheering them on, and she offered heartfelt motherly words of advice to them.
"I want to wish you the best of luck, but more importantly have fun, don't get hurt and stay out of trouble."