Story and photos by Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Smith
The days of warm weather and sunny skies in Colorado Springs are dwindling quickly, and Sgt. Joshua Mock did not want to let a good opportunity go to waste.
As a squad leader for 4th Platoon, Company A, Warrior Transition Battalion, Mock understands that healing is the most important mission at WTB. He also understands, though, that getting his Soldiers and those in his company out of their rooms and doing something together as a unit is important in keeping their morale up.
Mock, with the support of his chain of command, decided to organize a company paintball event to get the Soldiers to interact with each other, enjoy the outdoors and give them a break from the daily routines that so many have fallen into.
“(The Soldiers) get to get out and realize they can do stuff,” Mock said.
Many of the wounded warriors in
WTB have countless appointments as part of their recovery process. Company activities and socializing with the other Soldiers in the unit is a way to help them realize that regardless of their injuries, they still have friends and peers to enjoy their time with and keep their warrior spirit alive.
On the paintball field, the Soldiers in WTB showed that while they may be bruised, they are not necessarily broken. They grabbed their safety gear, paintball guns and paintballs, chose teams and headed out to the fields to wage a good-hearted war on each other.
The teamwork and leadership skills that these Soldiers learned in the Army were not forgotten as Soldiers stepped up and took control of their teams. They quickly directed others to positions of cover and concealment, located the opposing force and maneuvered on their positions to knock them out of the round.
“It’s soldierly stuff. It’s what we do in Iraq,” Mock said.
Despite the welts left on the skin from paintballs breaking on them, or the splattered paint covering their masks, the day was all in good fun. It appeared there were no hard feelings between opposing teams despite the intensity at which each team entered the match.
As the day wore on, the Soldiers were privy to a plethora of sub sandwiches, chips and drinks provided by the American Red Cross. After taking a small break for food and rehydration, they were at it again, bearing down on the opposing positions, seeking cover and slinging paint at each other in hopes of removing a player from the game and achieving victory for their team.
Staff Sgt. Benjamin Jackson has been in WTB for a year and has participated in many of the trips and events that the battalion offers its Soldiers.
“This was by far the best one I have been on,” he said. “It was a blast.”
Jackson knows that it’s not just about having a good time, but it’s important for Soldiers to interact with each other and socialize. He said he knows that being isolated and alone leads to unhealthy thoughts and depression.
“The number one way to keep Soldiers from going down that road is to get them out, get them involved,” he said. “It’s nice to get them out here. Find out what people need.”
Although winter has just about set in for good, Mock still has plans for more company events. He plans to organize ski and snowboard trips for his company and do what he can to keep the Soldiers active and motivated.