By By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jeff Troutman, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, Det. Hawaii
PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- PEARL HARBOR - The Navy Wounded Warrior (NWW) - Safe Harbor 2015 Wounded Warrior Pacific Trials drew to a close March 13, concluding a week of successful sporting events and family-oriented symposiums.
The athletes competed in basketball, volleyball, swimming, marksmanship and cycling events as a way to establish meaningful connections with other NWWs and experience positive connectivity through their challenges.
Adm. Harry B. Harris, Jr., commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, personally commended the approximately 60 warriors who participated in this year's trials at the closing ceremony in Waikiki.
"On your journey to be here today, I know there were many obstacles that seemed insurmountable. All of you have not only overcome those obstacles, you've strived for new challenges," said Harris. "In pursuit of a dream, every one of you has shown incredible mental and physical toughness. These Trials have provided an opportunity for all of us to celebrate your athletic achievements, your perseverance, your drive and your desire to succeed. So I thank you, and congratulate you for your tremendous achievements."
The wounded warrior athletes competing in the trials were comprised of active-duty and retired service members with upper-body, lower-body and spinal cord injuries; serious illnesses; traumatic brain injuries; visual impairment; and post-traumatic stress. The wounded warrior athletes were competing for selection to the Team Navy roster and advancement to the annual joint-service Warrior Games, which will take place this summer.
Retired Lt.j.g. Laura Root, a gold medalist winner in the 2013 and 2014 Warrior Games, said the trials are a great way for wounded service members to stay active and continue to support their country.
"I know first-hand, when facing disability or when things in your life are going wrong, sports are one place where you can focus on what's right, and here you have a great group of people who understand what you have been through," said Root. "When we come together like this, it's really about the comradery we share. We heal ourselves a little bit by having a good time with each other and by doing something we enjoy."
Perhaps most importantly, the trials are a way for wounded veterans to prove to themselves that they have the strength and the courage to move forward and continue to excel.
"There are a lot of sports in America today that have Wounded Warriors in mind," said Retired Army Staff Sergeant David Kimes, coach of the Pacific Trials rifle shooting team. "To get out there and do something, and realize that even though you have that setback in your life, you can get out there and enjoy life, and succeed, and maybe even compete and win or turn a lot of heads - it can be huge for self-esteem and self-respect. That's what we try to show with these events; that it's just a temporary setback."