By Capt. George Tobias
Air Force Space Command Public Affairs
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — A small group of Air Force wounded warriors attended an Adaptive Sports Wounded Warrior Mini Camp at the Olympic Training Center and the U.S. Air Force Academy, Nov. 3 to 6.
During the mini camp, 15 veteran and new athletes practiced wheelchair basketball, strength and conditioning, sitting volleyball and marksmanship at the OTC as well as an equestrian warrior wellness program at the Air Force Academy.
The goal of the camp is to introduce wounded warriors to the possibilities of different sports and activities said Col. David Anderson, Air Force Services Agency director of programs in San Antonio, Texas.
On the importance of the camp, Anderson noted it builds confidence and camaraderie amongst the athletes; retired Staff Sgt. Kevin Taylor echoed that sentiment.
“The best thing is to meet random people across the country and get to know their stories and become part of a team,” said Taylor, who was medically retired due to a traumatic brain injury.
Taylor, who is hoping to earn a spot on the 2012 Air Force Warrior Games team, found out about the Air Force Wounded Warrior Program at the Patrick Air Force Base gym and encourages others to learn about it.
A newcomer to the program, Senior Airman Michael Malarsie, 59th Patient Squadron, Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, was accompanied by his guide dog, Xxon, and described the camp as therapeutic and relaxing.
Malarsie, who was blinded by an improvised explosive device blast while serving in Afghanistan, said, “To try something that you thought was impossible, and be able to do it, is really therapeutic.”
A common theme expressed by the athletes was a sense of community with their fellow athletes and a realization that they are not alone nor isolated.
“I would like for others to know their lives aren’t done just because they’re injured,” said Taylor.
Learn more about the Air Force Wounded Warrior Program at http://www.woundedwarrior.af.mil/, or call (800) 581-9437.