Story and photo by Sgt. William Smith
4th Infantry Division Public Affairs Office
After doctors told her she’d never walk again, Spc. Elizabeth Wasil ditched her wheelchair and pushed herself into the swimming pool.
“Seeing that is something I will never forget,” said Lisa Stratman, Wasil’s strength coach and World Class Athlete Program assistant coach. “She used her arms and upper body to propel her through the water and started rehabbing herself.”
Wasil sustained bilateral hip injuries while she was deployed to Iraq in 2010. Through sheer determination she qualified for the Warrior Games as part of Team Army in 2012 and 2013.
“The Warrior Games changed my life,” Wasil said. “It took me from a Warrior Transition (Battalion) Soldier who was struggling to try to return to the Army, to a (WCAP) member in one year.”
A swimmer with WCAP, Wasil underwent rigorous physical therapy. Three years after her injuries, she qualified for the Paralympics in swimming.
Because she qualifies in swimming events for the Paralympics, Wasil will represent the Army at the 2013 Warrior Games in wheelchair racing, shot put, discus and cycling. Since 2011, the Warrior Games have encouraged wounded warriors from all of the services to get physically active. The games take place Saturday through May 17 at the U.S. Air Force Academy and Olympic Training Center.
“(The games) gave me a whole new drive, showed me things I never would’ve known that I was even able to do,” Wasil said. “It gave me an entire different outlet that I didn’t know was there. It helps give injured Soldiers a really strong foundation amongst each other, because there is no better support than a fellow injured Soldier.”
Wasil’s determination has brought inspiration to others.
“She is the poster child for Paralympic games,” said Capt. Jason Barber, strength coach, WCAP. “She has overcome adversity through hard work and determination. She is a great person to be around.”
Wasil said her goal is to establish competitive times within the sports that she will be participating in, so that more female athletes have the opportunity to compete, and to represent Team Army the best that she can.
Wasil said that she is appreciative of all the Warrior Games athletes for all of the help they have given to her.
“I cannot express how grateful that I am for the support,” she said. “(The Warrior Games) is an amazing program that helps Soldiers heal.”