The Navy athletes are able to compete in the Invictus Games as part of their enrollment in the Navy’s Wounded Warrior – Safe Harbor program, which is managed by Navy Installations Command (CNIC) and coordinates non-medical care of seriously wounded, ill and injured Sailors and Coast Guardsmen, and provides resources and support to their families.
“We have many of resources for our Sailors in the Navy, and it’s important for the fleet to have awareness of Navy Wounded Warrior’s mission,” said Vice Adm. Mary Jackson, Commander, Navy Installations Command. “There are local elements to the program, which include not only adaptive sports, but many other non-medical resources. If there is a Sailor who is eligible, then we absolutely want to get them enrolled.”
More than 550 wounded, ill and injured servicemen and women from 17 allied nations competing in the international competition --going head-to-head in archery, athletics (track and field), indoor rowing, powerlifting, road cycling, sitting volleyball, swimming, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair tennis, wheelchair rugby, golf and sailing.
Among thoseathletes is Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Carlos Valerio, who contributes his continued healing to the Navy Wounded Warrior program.
“I can’t thank Navy Wounded Warrior – Safe Harbor enough for what they have done for me,” said Valerio. “It has been instrumental in my recovery and helping me return to duty after my illness.”
The competitions are takingplace across Sydney at venues including the Olympic Park facilities, the location of the 2000 Olympics.
“We have a special relationship with our Australian partners, and it’s been a rewarding visit strengthening our ties,” said Jackson. “Seeing the power of sport and all that our athletes on the US team have accomplished this week is beyond inspiring.”
The Team USA roster is made up of athletes from all branches of the military and is a true joint-service entity that represented the country in Australia.
“Even though we are from different branches of service, it didn’t take us long to build relationships and recognize we are all on the same team,” said retired Aviation Electronics Technician Austin “Chance” Field. “Great team work is the best way to succeed, and that’s why we competed so well.”
The Navy wounded warriors showed up ready to compete at every competition, focused on doing the very best they could.
“I love being here representing the US team in Sydney,” said retired Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Emmanuel Gonzalez. “We’re not on home turf, but the Aussies have been great hosts and the energy is amazing at every competition!”
Navy Wounded Warrior – Safe Harbor provides individually-tailored assistance designed to optimize the success of the wounded warriors' recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration activities. To learn more, visit www.navywoundedwarrior.com/.
(Kyle Malloy is a contributing writer for the Navy Wounded Warrior-Safe Harbor program under Navy Installations Command.)