Wounded warriors compete for gold in track & field
By Cody T. StarkenMay 6, 2012
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Army News Service, May 5, 2012) -- Army athletes took six gold, five silver and seven bronze medals during the track and field events May 4 at the 2012 Warrior Games here.
"One of the biggest things coming from something like this both on the mental side and physical side are improvements," said retired Staff Sgt. Michael Kacer. "Emotionally mentally, physically, you just better yourself as a whole once you get into sports."
Kacer joined the Pennsylvania National Guard right out of high school and remained in the military for 10 years and five months until his retirement in May 2010. During his deployment to Afghanistan he was injured by a rocket. Today he took home a silver and three bronze medals.
The impact of being injured and not being able to compete in sports can be hard to deal with for many wounded warriors.
"Not being able to play sports again was depressing," said Sgt. Monica Southall. "The Warrior Games came along and gave me the opportunity to be competitive again."
She said it was a pretty rough journey to get here because of the injuries she sustained in 2009 in Afghanistan.
Even though she still deals with a lot of pain, she went home with a gold for her 37-foot throw in the Women's Shot Put, beating out the rest of the services. She competed for her next medal in sitting volleyball during the evening events.
"If you are sitting in your room and not doing anything, it is a way to be active again," Southall said. "Regardless of what is wrong with you, you can do something in the Warrior Games."
The Warrior Games was created in 2010 as an introduction to Paralympic sports for injured service members and veterans. The competition has become a springboard for many service members and veterans to continue participating in sports programs in their communities after the event. The real goal is to provide strength for those who served.
"The only thing going through my mind isn't the medals, the only thing I got going through my mind is have fun and leave it out on the field," Kacer said.
For more information about the 2012 Wounded Warrior Games, visit: http://www2.teamusa.org/US-Paralympics.aspx