Cove wounded warrior competes in Department of Defense games
By RICK BURKE
Special to Leader-Press
CHICAGO - U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Alan “A.J.” Thomas, a Copperas Cove High School graduate and Copperas Cove, Texas native, will join more than 250 seriously wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans at the Department of Defense Warrior Games June 30 – July 8 in Chicago, Ill.
Thomas will be competing against athletes from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force and Special Operations Command.
“Participating in the Warrior Games to me, means that I am able to compete in sports that I love again,” said Thomas.
During the nine days Thomas will compete in cycling, track and field, sitting volleyball and wheelchair basketball.
“Our Navy athletes who are participating in this year’s Department of Defense Warrior Games are an inspiration for us all,” said Vice Adm. Mary Jackson, commander, Navy Installations Command. “Their involvement in the Games brings home the importance of the Navy’s adaptive sports program, which has a significant impact on a wounded warrior’s recovery efforts. I’m looking forward to supporting Team Navy in Chicago this summer.”
The Navy honors the sacrifices of wounded warriors from the Navy and Coast Guard by providing them top-notch non-medical support through Navy Wounded Warrior (NWW) – Safe Harbor. All enrollees in NWW are encouraged to make athletics a key component of their recovery efforts. By promoting wounded warrior participation in competitions like the DoD Warrior Games, NWW helps enrollees heal through adaptive sports.
Thomas was selected for Team Navy after the competitive Wounded Warrior Trials in February at Naval Base Ventura County in Oxnard, California. Team Navy includes service members and veterans with upper-body, lower-body, and spinal cord injuries; traumatic brain injuries; visual impairment; serious illnesses; and post-traumatic stress.
These games provide an opportunity for athletes to grow physically, mentally and spiritually from the sportsmanship and camaraderie gained by representing their respective service teams in a friendly and spirited competition. It is an opportunity for athletes to showcase their enduring warrior spirit in the presence of their families and grateful nation.
“Serving my country is the greatest honor a man or woman can have; being able to sacrifice yourself for someone you don’t know is a courageous thing,” said Thomas.
For more information about the 2017 DoD Warrior Games, please visit http://www.dodwarriorgames.com/.