By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tyrell K. Morris
TAMPA, Fla. – Local citizens joined athletes, families, and service members at the Amalie Arena for a closing ceremony to celebrate the teams’ accomplishments during 2019 Department of Defense (DoD) Warrior Games June 30.
The closing ceremony, hosted by Jon Stewart, was the culmination of hard work, sweat, tears and overcoming adversity for the warriors competing in the games.
“Our wounded warriors have shown incredible determination and resiliency in their personal roads to recovery, and Team CNIC is honored to be a part of their journey,” said Vice Adm. Mary M. Jackson, Commander, Navy Installations Command, who attended the games earlier in the week. “Through the Warrior Games and our Navy Wounded Warrior-Safe Harbor program, we witness the fighting spirit of our wounded warriors. They, along with their families, are an inspiration to us all.”
Team Navy, which consisted of 40 Navy and Coast Guardsmen, joined approximately 300 service members from the other branches of the U.S. military, as well as participants from Australia, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
The games, which began on June 21, featured 13 adaptive sports: archery, cycling, indoor rowing, powerlifting, shooting, sitting volleyball, swimming, track, field, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair tennis, wheelchair rugby and golf.
Team Navy competed for gold in all three team sports wheelchair rugby, wheelchair basketball and sitting volleyball; winning silver in rugby and basketball and gold in volleyball.
“I’m amazed to the point of speechlessness at what I’ve seen here at the Warrior Games and I want to use my office to provide more support to these athletes and the Warrior Games in the upcoming years,” said Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Russell Smith.
U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Daryl Schaffer was awarded the “Heart of the Team” award for Team Navy during the closing ceremony.
The Department of Defense Warrior Games showcases the resilient spirit of today’s wounded warriors of all branches of the military. Team Navy athletes are enrolled in the Navy Wounded Warrior-Safe Harbor, which is managed by Commander, Navy Installations Command. The program provides premier non-medical services to wounded, ill and injured Sailors and Coast Guardsmen as well as support and resources to their families.
“This was an absolute amazing experience for me,” said Team Navy athlete Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Emmanuel Gonzalez. “I have learned so much about myself during the games and met so many amazing people that I call friends from different branches and countries. I will cherish this experience for a lifetime.”
The Warrior Games introduced wounded, ill, and injured service members and veterans to Paralympic-style sports. The event demonstrated the incredible potential of wounded warriors and provided a tremendous healing power to the athletes. One of the most impactful elements of the Games, however, was the sense of community that formed among the athletes.
"The 40 Team Navy athletes represent the more than 4,000 Sailors and Guardsman with a serious illness or injury who are currently receiving support through the Navy Wounded Warrior – Safe Harbor Program," said Jackson. "The support teams work with each service member and their family to provide a tailored recovery plan."
Enrollment in the Navy Wounded Warrior – Safe Harbor program is not limited to those with combat wounds. The program also supports those with serious illnesses – both mental and physical conditions – and injuries sustained in shipboard, training or liberty accidents. Support can include developing Comprehensive Recovery Plans; addressing pay and personnel issues; connecting to family resources; offering adaptive athletic opportunities; and linking to education and training benefits.
To learn about enrollment, call the 24/7 toll-free line at 855-NAVY WWP (628-9997), email email@example.com, or log onto www.navywoundedwarrior.com.