The Wounded Warrior Games is more than a competition

Serving members and veterans of the United States Armed Forces are prepared to pay any price, including the ultimate cost, to defend their country and the people who live there. Unfortunately, this means that many of them suffer injuries or setbacks that could potentially alter the course of their lives in the future. and when this happens, the military branches offer several ways to help those members move forward in any way they see fit. A major program that has benefited many people has been the Wounded Warrior Games, which was created by the United States Department of Defense (DoD) in 2010. It is organized by the US Army Training and Doctrine Command. Travis Claytor is the communications director for the Games.

Staff Sgt. Kalie Frantz

“Each of the branches of the United States Service as well as the United States Special Operations Command have what they call the Wounded Warrior Care Program“, said Claytor. He went on to explain that the program serves injured, ill or injured members to help them recover, to help them through their journey of recovery. They can help members return to service active if they wish, or the program can help with the transition to civilian life.

“Adapted sports are part of these programs. Adapted sports can be part of the recovery journey for these athletes. Each branch of service has an adaptive sports program that these service members participate in year-round,” explained Claytor.

Travis Claytor has been the Director of Communications for the Wounded Warrior Games since 2019, and he’s excited about the 2022 edition of the Games, especially given an extended absence and an upcoming milestone.

“Athletes competing are wounded, ill or injured military personnel on active duty and military veterans,” Claytor said. “Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Games were canceled in 2020 and 2021, but are returning in 2022. This will be the 10th edition of the competition.”

Veterans participating in the 2016 Wounded Warrior Games
Staff Sgt. Vito Bryant

The 2022 Wounded Warrior Games will take place at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, August 19-28.

Each branch of service has its own events to determine which competitors will represent them at the Games.

“They have tryouts once a year. So anyone interested in this branch can come and try a specific sport,” explained Claytor. “There are usually between 40 and 50 athletes chosen in all sports.”

Examples of these sports include wheelchair basketball, indoor rowing, sitting volleyball, and many others. Claytor found that the Games helped educate the public about the strength and abilities of these athletes. It also shows that not all setbacks involve something physical that happened.

“There is a misconception that injured, sick or injured means physical injury. Yes, there are amputees competing and you can see physical injuries, but what a lot of people don’t realize is that the overwhelming majority of athletes competing have injuries that aren’t visible,” Claytor revealed. “They have traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress disorder or even physical injuries that can’t be seen as a spinal injury that prevents them from competing in a certain way. So there is an adaptation to this sport.

Claytor noted that despite the visible and invisible adversities these warriors have endured, what can be seen and felt is the betterment of these warriors through the pursuit of physical excellence that the Wounded Warrior Games provide. .

“Where you see the recovery in real time is not the physical. It’s with the mental and emotional aspects. It’s the camaraderie that comes with these games and the ability to participate and compete, well course, but to be with and to be around their brothers and sisters in the armed forces.

Veteran Matt Cable performing an Olympic press at the Wounded Warrior Games
Courtesy of Matt Cable

Matt Cable is an athlete who knows the Wounded Warrior Games well and will be making a comeback. The Air Force veteran and two-time leukemia survivor first competed at the Games in 2017. After winning seven medals at the 2022 Invictus Games earlier this year, he will be in San Antonio, Texas, at the mid-July to prepare for the Wounded Warrior Games. .

“I’ll be busy while I’m over there,” Cable joked. He will compete in multiple events, including track and field, relays, shot put, discus, powerlifting, 1-minute and 4-minute rowing races, and more. Cable is used to competing on big stages, having competed at the Invictus Games as well as the Titan Games. So it won’t be anything new for him.

“I know the events that I will do. So every day I practiced,” Cable said. “I approach the competition by making sure that I have no weaknesses and that I am ready for anything and anything. It’s just a matter of preparing my body and mind.

While Cable has that athlete and champion mindset, he doesn’t lose sight of the Wounded Warrior Games having a level of importance that stands out. There is also a personal connection for him this year.

“I know how important it is, and the athletes who will be there are the best athletes in each branch. It’ll be in Orlando, which is going to be fun, and I have family there. So it’s very exciting.

What Claytor appreciates most about this elite competition is that it honors incredible athletes like Cable and the hundreds of others who will venture to Orlando to take part in this year’s festivities and events. It also serves as a call to Americans to be there for the members we know will work to overcome adversity because of what they have done to protect freedom.

“It is important for everyone, if nothing else, to recognize what these military personnel have dedicated to our country, and it is vitally important to support them now on their journey to recovery. For more information about the Wounded Warrior Games, go to www.dodwarriorgames.com . You can also follow them on Instagram @dodwarriorgames .

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