By Karen Parrish, DoD News, Defense Media Activity / Published June 19, 2015
WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- The 2015 Department of Defense Warrior Games opened June 19, with about 250 athletes from the U.S. and U.K. gathering at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, to compete for a different victory: celebrating their new lives and their enduring abilities.
Their disabilities are often evident; their warrior spirit is more so.
The Warrior Games were established in 2010 and initially operated by the U.S. Olympic Committee. This year, the lead for the events has transferred to the U.S. military, with the Marine Corps serving as the first sponsor service.
Honoring warrior skills
Defense Secretary Ash Carter spoke at the opening ceremony.
“The Warrior Games -- you … the participants in the Warrior Games, you’re the pinnacle of DOD adaptive sports programs -- activities that have helped our men and women heal together … in mind, in body, and soul,” he said.
Generations of warriors have served their nations when the most desperate call came: “Go to war,” the defense secretary said. The Warrior Games showcase their survival, he added.
Carter noted that over the past year, more than 150,000 U.S. wounded warriors have participated in 28 sports camps and 51 clinics, among other activities.
Gathering of heroes
After thanking Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Joseph Dunford and the U.S. Marine Corps for hosting the games at Quantico, the defense secretary offered a special welcome to the British competitors and defense and legislative representatives present.
“I want to extend a warm, warm welcome to our British friends and allies -- to the 40 competitors and their guests and to Maj. Gen. (Richard) Cripwell. It’s our privilege to welcome you and our other distinguished guests,” he said.
“We’re all here because of these incredible competitors -- the warrior-athletes competing from our total force: active, Guard and Reserve alike -- the Army, the Navy … the Marine Corps … the Coast Guard, the Air Force, the U.S. Special Operations Command and the British Armed Forces,” Carter continued.
Athletes inspiring others
The secretary said he knew the athletes spent long hours in training for the competition.
“And after inspiring us with your service on duty, you continue to do so this week … on the court, around the track and in the pool,” the secretary said.
Carter also said he wanted to publicly acknowledge and thank “the family members, the caregivers, the medical professionals, the coaches, friends (and) countless others who’ve supported our warrior-athletes on their journeys to these games.”
Scheduled events through June 28 include wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball, cycling, archery, field events, shooting, swimming and a wheelchair rugby exhibition.