By MC3 Kristopher S. Haley
Navy Public Affairs Support Element East, Detachment Southeast
The top 40 athletes have earned their spot in Team Navy and will now make their way to this year's DoD Warrior Games, an adaptive sports competition for wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans.
The 2018 Team Navy trials, which were hosted by Commander, Navy Installations Command's Navy Wounded Warrior - Safe Harbor program, came to a close Feb. 24 at Naval Station Mayport.
"The Navy's adaptive sports program provides a critical pathway to recovery for these resilient warriors," said Vice Adm. Mary Jackson, commander of Navy Installations Command, who oversees the 11 regions and 71 installations worldwide that are foundational to fleet and warfighter readiness. "Watching these athletes compete provides many with a renewed appreciation for life. The teamwork and the camaraderie that exist within and between these athletes are indescribably powerful and inspirational."
Approximately 70 athletes competed in various paralympic-style events, including track and field, swimming, shooting, archery, sitting volleyball, cycling and wheelchair basketball. Those who made the Navy roster will face off with athletes from the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, and U.S. Special Operations Command as well as the Australian Defence Force and the United Kingdom Armed Forces June 2-9 at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.
"It's more than just a sport," said Kile Putman, one of the Team Navy's adaptive field coaches. "It's about coming together with a common thread of 'our body is just not what it once was.' Sports allow service members to set specific goals to obtain. That technique can be applied to daily lives in the recovery process. It gives a chance to set a standard for their lives that they wish to obtain."
Along with the physical recovery and rehabilitation benefits, the Team Navy trials and the DoD Warrior Games help build new relationships with other competitors who have like-minded drives and experiences while supporting strong social networks and a sense of community they can rely on during their path to recovery.
"We're all here to compete, every one wants to make the team and go to the Warrior Games," said Cryptologic Technician 1st Class Tyson Schmidt, 2018 Team Navy Trials participant. "Our competitiveness is equally matched by support. Whether you're the first person to finish a race or the last one to finish a swim, the volume of cheers and support doesn't change."
Navy Wounded Warrior - Safe Harbor provides Sailors and Coast Guardsmen as well as their families with non-medical care while they are recovering from serious illness or injury. There are approximately 4,000 Sailors and Coast Guardsmen currently enrolled in the program. To learn more, log onto www.navywoundedwarrior.com.