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Rehabilitating Wounded Warriors Through Sports
by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Michael Ellis - May 18, 2016

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Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, TX - The Air Force Wounded Warrior program hosted the first Adaptive and Rehabilitative Sports event for members of the 59th Medical Wing's Airman Medical Transition Unit Oct. 9, 2015 at the Medina Annex Fitness Center.

The AMTU provides administrative oversight and supervision to Airmen recovering from combat and non-combat related injuries and illnesses.

More than 40 wounded warriors from the Army, Marine Corps and Air Force, including those from the AMTU, participated in daylong sporting events aimed at introducing them to other wounded warriors in the San Antonio area.

Participants rotated through various clinics where they learned the fundamentals of adaptive sports like sitting volleyball, swimming, wheelchair basketball and yoga. Over the next three months, the AMTU will host weekly practices so that Airmen from the unit can hone their new skills and develop new relationships.

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Darrell Davis II, a supervisor with the 59th Medical Wing Airman Medical Transition Unit, shoots to score during the Adaptive and Rehabilitative Sports Kick-Off Oct. 9, 2015, on Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland. The Airman Medical Transition Unit provides administrative oversight and supervision to more than 50 Airmen recovering from combat and non-combat related injuries and illnesses. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Ellis)
U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Darrell Davis II, a supervisor with the 59th Medical Wing Airman Medical Transition Unit, shoots to score during the Adaptive and Rehabilitative Sports Kick-Off Oct. 9, 2015, on Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland. The Airman Medical Transition Unit provides administrative oversight and supervision to more than 50 Airmen recovering from combat and non-combat related injuries and illnesses. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Ellis)

Staff Sgt. Sven Perryman, a volunteer swim coach and Warrior Games champion, was injured in a motorcycle accident in 2009. After a long recovery, he has defied the odds and is now training to compete at the national level.

"The doctors said that just to walk normal again would be an accomplishment for me," Perryman said. "At the time when I was Iaying in a hospital bed and confined to a wheelchair for 10 months, there's no way I could imagine doing what I am now."

Since the accident, Perryman feels that he has been given a second chance and has even deployed supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. He now dedicates two to three hours, six days a week in the pool, with the goal of proving his doctors wrong and proving to himself that he can accomplish anything he desires.

One participant explained how the Air Force Wounded Warrior program is about building camaraderie and promoting a sense of belonging.

"I didn't actually make the Air Force team; I was just an attendee at the last Wounded Warrior Games," said retired Master Sgt. Hope Giger. "Perryman, an eight medals recipient in four different sporting events, didn't even know who I was, but he walked over to me and gave me one of his medals. He told me that although I was not competing, I'm still part of team because I was there cheering everyone on."

Events like this are all about finding a group of people who will support and encourage you, Giger added.

"Going through what I went through, I felt I had to get involved and share my story," said Perryman. "Adaptive sports is about more than just competition. It's about recovery, and you're not alone in the recovery process."

Since its inception, the Military Adaptive Sports Program has assisted more than 158,000 wounded, ill and injured service members at 325 structured camps and clinics that feature activities including basketball, cycling, track, field, swimming, golf, sitting volleyball, yoga, and gardening, according to a Department of Defense news release.

By U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Michael Ellis
Provided through DVIDS
Copyright 2016

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