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Wounded warriors participate in Warrior Transition Battalion Adapted Sports Day

By Maria Gallegos | Brooke Army Medical Center Public Affairs | Aug. 23, 2012

JBSA-FORT SAM HOUSTON — More than 500 wounded service members participated in the Warrior Transition Battalion's Adapted Sports Day at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston Aug. 15.

The non-competitive adapted sports event consisted of wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball, track and field, swimming, archery, air rifle and cycling.

Each service member selected three or four sports they wanted to participate in prior to the event and at the day of the event, 90 minutes were given per sport to get the hands-on practice of each assigned sport.

Staff, volunteers and members of U.S. Paralympics, a division of the United States Olympic Committee, gave demonstrations and coached the warriors on different sport activities.

"The purpose of this event is to increase interest in adapted sports with the wounded warriors," said WTB commander Lt. Col Brian Almquist.

"We want to expose them to different sports with demonstrations and hands-on participation, so they have the opportunity to experience something they were not sure about before."

Sgt. Mark Castanon, WTB staff, explained that some wounded service members are hesitant to try something new and different, but after they get involved with the sport, they have fun and want to play more.

"Afterward, they like it and realize it is a great stress reliever," Castanon said.

"I never felt so good," said Sgt. Clement Bumgham, who has lower back injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder, about his first time riding an adapted bike since he was injured in Afghanistan.

"The ride helped me release some anger and stress I have from PTSD," Bumgham said. "I am hooked."

"Doing these events with our injuries encourages us to know that we are still the same, nothing has changed," said retired Sgt. Robert Samuel, who has been playing wheelchair basketball since November 2011.

The event concluded with positive feedback from the warriors and some expressed they are considering trying out for the regional games and ultimately compete in the Army Warrior Games.

"Everyone enjoyed the opportunity to learn about and participate in the adaptive sports," Almquist said. "We have dozens of new Soldiers who want to try out for the regional and ultimately compete in the Army Warrior Games in Colorado."

The event was a joint effort of a number of organizations that came together in making this event a huge success, said Almquist, noting the assistance from Operation Comfort, U.S. Paralympics Military Program, Warrior and Family Support Center, the staff of the fitness center and volunteers.

"With the great turn out of this event, we are looking to do it semi-annually with the next one probably within three or four months," he said.