COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (May 10, 2013) – In 2005, a former Marine
and retired Army sergeant lay in a Veterans Affairs hospital,
wracked with pain, watched other wounded veterans around him
suffering, many despondent and without hope.
May 10, 2013 - Joey Smith, a member of the
Marine Corps team, who competed this year in archery, air rifle and
pistol events during the 2013 Warrior Games in Colorado Springs, CO,
is the author of the Marine Corps' "Creed of the Wounded
Warrior'. (Photo by David Vergun, Army News Service)
Sgt. Joseph “Joey” C. Smith said he himself
was at the lowest point in his life.
A year earlier, he was
in a remote forward operating base in Afghanistan, on his fourth
deployment when it happened.
He was working alongside Afghan
soldiers around some storage containers. He said two of them climbed
on the roof of one of the containers intentionally pushed another
container on top of him.
For the next four years he was
transferred to multiple hospitals where he underwent three spinal
cord surgeries, as well as one on his leg. Doctors told him he was
lucky to be alive.
He also lost the use of his voice for
those four years, but using pen and paper, he wrote just a few words
that he said helped to inspire other wounded warriors in that
hospital as well as himself.
The Marine Corps later adopted
what he wrote as their own “Creed of the Wounded Warrior” and the
words quickly spread, inspiring countless others:
“Though I am wounded, I will always be a
warrior. I will never give up, nor quit in the face of adversity. I
will do my best in all that I do and achieve. I will not allow my
injuries to limit me, and most of all, I will never forget my fallen
comrades or leave a fellow injured warrior behind.”
That such a simple message as this inspired so many is
amazing, he said.
Following his hospitalization,
Smith followed his creed to “do my best in all that I do and
achieve” by entering the 2010 Wounded Warrior games, the
first year of that competition, competing in shooting,
swimming, cycling and archery. The athletes are all wounded,
ill or injured veterans and service members.
has returned to the games every year since and this week
he's competing in the shooting and swimming events here at
the Olympic Training Center and Air Force Academy.
said the intense inter-service and interpersonal rivalries
really motivate the athletes but “at the end of the day,
it's one team, one fight,” meaning that they are all friends
who are helping each other through the healing process.
Things have been looking up for Smith, who said he plans
to return to the games in the future.
In 2010, he and
his wife Debbi received a special gift. Homes For Our
Heroes, a nonprofit, donated a wheelchair accessible home
for them in Thomasville, N.C. He said words can't describe
how much that meant to them.
During the competitions
this week, some 400 media from around the world are
descending on the games, outnumbering the athletes nearly
two to one.
Smith said he thinks that is “awesome”
and he hopes the media will get the word out to the world
about what it means to be a wounded warrior and how they are
all trying hard to rebuild their lives, assisting one
another, despite the suffering they have endured.
By David Vergun, Army News Service
Army News Service
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