Story by Robert Whetstone on 06/23/2019By Robert A. Whetstone, Brooke Army Medical Center Public Affairs
MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Families of the United States have been allowing their sons and daughters to fight for the nation's freedom for over two centuries. This fact was recently honored and celebrated during the Army's 244th birthday reminding the country of the extreme price that has been paid for the freedoms enjoyed here.
This week adds another reminder of the sacrifices made by U.S. service members of all branches of service. The Department of Defense Warrior Games, now in its 9th year of competition, is being held in Tampa, Florida, from June 21-30, hosted by U.S. Special Operations Command.
Leaders at every level, from all services, both military and civilian, make time every year to acknowledge the sacrifice and resilience of the service member/athletes and their families participating in the DoD Warrior Games.
A frequent visitor to the games, Army Vice Chief of Staff, Gen. James C. McConville, stopped by to support the Soldiers and veterans that make up Team Army. "We have a sacred obligation to take care of our Soldiers and to help them overcome their wounds, injuries and illnesses, and this (DoD Warrior Games) is one of the ways we do it," said McConville.
Warrior Care in the transition units is designed to equip Soldiers with the capability to recover and return to duty or to overcome their wounds, injuries, or illnesses and prepare for veteran status. It falls right in line with some of McConville's top priorities of people, dignity, and respect.
McConville attended swimming and wheelchair basketball practices, speaking with and listening to Soldiers and veterans tell their story of how they obtained their noticeable physical injuries, and some invisible wounds as well. "We take care of them from the time they enter the service, and even after they leave the service; it is an enduring commitment," he explained.
The United Kingdom Armed Forces, Australian Defence Force, and Canadian Armed Forces, are no strangers to the DoD Warrior Games, having competed against U.S. military wounded warriors in the past. This year however, the games have a historic five international teams competing, with the addition of the Armed Forces of the Netherlands, and the Danish Armed Forces.
McConville explains that military to military relations are not only important on the battlefield, but are far reaching in ways only those who have and are serving understand.
"I think it is very important that we're here with our military allies and partners," said McConville. "We don't fight alone, and we shouldn't recover alone. We fought the last 18 years on the same battlefield, and I think we should recover on the same playing field."
When the services come together for competitions like Warrior Games, the friendly rivalry' is evident from start to finish. But like all military operations, winning is extremely important. "I believe that winning does matter," added McConville. "By winning, it is how you define what winning looks like for these Soldiers while they are competing at these games. For some it is overcoming that wound, it is overcoming that illness, it is overcoming that injury. But at the end of the day, I want to make sure our Soldiers are winning on the battlefield and the playing field."
McConville offered his heartfelt gratitude to leaders at all levels and services about the spirit of the DoD Warrior Games and the transition units and programs that support them. "I want to thank them for taking care of our Soldiers," he said. "I am very inspired by what I see. I have had a chance to see the athletes, coaches and supporters who are very passionate about taking care of our Soldiers. I'm very glad this whole team has come together to make this a great event."
With Warrior Games taking place during the summer in Florida, McConville offers some familiar advice to Soldiers who, not so long ago, may have deployed to similarly hot places like Afghanistan and Iraq. "It is Tampa, it is summer, the weather is at its hottest so you need to hydrate," he said. "This is where conditioning will allow you to overcome adversity."
"One of the great things about our Soldiers is they never quit," McConville proudly said. "They never accept defeat." I am really proud of the Soldiers and their families that are down here because they are overcoming the adversity of their wounds, illness, and injuries. Very, very proud because they are living up to that (warrior) ethos."