Story by Seaman Apprentice Molly Crawford
Navy Public Affairs Support Element Detachment Hawaii
PEARL HARBOR - After receiving the inbound ball, he sets his sights toward the goal. Time is running out and they need to score. While dribbling the ball up the court, he keeps an eye out for the opposing player coming his way. Hoping to avoid him, he speeds up. At the last moment, he passes the ball to his teammate, but his momentum can’t be stopped. Crash! Their wheelchairs collide and they both fall to the floor. His gamble was not in vain. He looks up to see his teammate hit the open shot to put his team ahead by two. Climbing into his chair, he goes back to defense.
The Navy Wounded Warrior program held its introductory sports camp Feb. 17 - 21 at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam and Iolani High School in Honolulu. Events such as wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby, seated volleyball, swimming and track and field were conducted as a means to prepare the qualifying contestants for the Navy trials later this year.
During the week of the introductory sports camp, Navy Wounded Warrior brings participating U.S. Navy Sailors and Coast Guardsmen stationed around the world together.
“It helps with mental health and to increase self worth and self esteem,” said Margo Crane, an N95 Region Program Director with Navy Wounded Warrior. “Those who participate in sports tend to find a new purpose, sense of well being, way of going and a way to still have camaraderie.”
Crane explained that this was important because a lot of sense of self and importance is lost when service members fall ill or become handicapped due to physical or psychological complications.
Through the sports camp the participants can gain more than just teamwork skills and strength; the contestants are also able to gain new friends that some might even consider as family.
“These events prepare us to do better for ourselves and recover faster,” said Frank Mmobousi, a Navy Veteran and contestant at the sports camp. “Whatever we're going through, be vigilant. Training with a team is different because we support each other, we encourage each other, we feed off each other's energy, identify our weaknesses and help each other out.”
Navy Wounded Warrior helps assist service members with non-medical care during times of recovery by giving them a support group and people to talk to. A big part of the program is also to provide outside resources to help with things such as pay and personnel issues, lodging and housing adaptation, child and youth care and more, according to the Navy Wounded Warrior website.
“This program is important because it gives them a support system and an extra set of listening ears,” said Crane. “A lot of the times when you’re overcome with emotion or with medical appointments it's very difficult to keep track of everything.”
What some people misunderstand about Navy Wounded Warrior is that you don’t have to have a combat-related injury; it can be any physical or mental conditions sustained on or off duty to qualify for their program. Crane emphasized that there is no one diagnosis that qualifies you.
“It’s based on the severity of the condition and the amount of needs that an individual has,” explained Crane. “Sometimes we hear, ‘I don't think that I would qualify because I wasn't in combat’, or, ‘I don't think that my case is that severe and I don't want to take the place from somebody that might be more severe.’ We don’t have a cut off. We can take as many people as there are. You're never going to be taking the space of someone else.”
Crane encourages people to spread the word about Navy Wounded Warrior and what it can offer for Sailors and coast guardsmen.
To find out more about Navy Wounded Warrior you can visit their website at www.navywoundedwarrior.com or call 855-NAVY-WWP (628-9997).