By Wallace McBride, Fort Jackson LeaderMay 21, 2012
FORT JACKSON, S.C. (May 21, 2012) -- A performance enhancement specialist from Fort Jackson was part of the support staff preparing Soldiers for competing in this year's Warrior Games.
The Warrior Games draw hundreds of wounded warriors to Colorado Springs, Colo., each year to compete in swimming, cycling wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball, archery, shooting and track and field events. All of the athletes are injured, ill or wounded service members from each branch of service and the U.S. Special Operations Command.
Richard Harris, performance enhancement specialist with the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness-Performance and Resilience Enhancement Program at Fort Jackson, helped get Soldiers ready to compete in this year's wheelchair basketball event. In the end, the Army team won the gold in the 2011 Warrior Games and claimed the gold again this year, defeating the Marines with a final score 54-34.
"It's an event that really showcases a lot of the Soldiers coming back to the theater via the Warrior Transition Unit," Harris said. "It showcases how sport participation can lead to a healthy transition. It's to celebrate their commitment, to stand in the face of adversity and say 'I'm not done.'"
"The Warrior Games is one of the ways to show Soldiers that have been faithful in their physical and mental fitness, for all branches to come together for a week for a mini-Olympics," he said.
Harris said his job is to make sure athletes are emotionally prepared to compete successfully.
"I prepare Soldiers to make sure their confidence is where it needs to be, to make sure they're focused on the right things that will allow them to perform well," he said. "You have to think in terms of what their needs are and what their injury is. That way you've got a medical team trained to deal with that and make sure we've got a Soldier primed to go for Warrior Games."
Although Harris was involved with preparing Soldiers to compete in the Warrior Games, none of the Soldiers on the teams were from Fort Jackson, he said.
"My goal for this year is to try and get more of our Soldiers in the Warrior Transition Unit to participate in the Warrior Games," Harris said. "Other installations have six or seven Soldiers that are participating. Part of the issue is that we have a lot of Soldiers in the National Guard, and sometimes they're transitioning out of the military."