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Air Force seeking athletes for warrior games

RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- The deadline for submitting applications to compete in the inaugural Warrior Games is Friday.

Approximately 200 wounded active duty members and military veterans will compete in the Warrior Games May 10 to 14 in Colorado Springs, Colo., Defense Department officials announced Jan. 7. Air Force is seeking approximately 25 wounded warriors to participate.

The U.S. Olympic Committee will host the games, and events will include shooting, swimming, archery, track, discus, shot put, cycling, sitting volleyball and wheelchair basketball, said Army Brig. Gen. Gary Cheek, the commander of the U.S. Army Warrior Transition Command, at a Pentagon news conference.

Athletes will be recruited from each of the military services, including the Coast Guard, through an independent selection process.

The competition is open to military members and veterans with bodily injuries as well as mental wounds of war, such as post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury.

An Olympic-style event will challenge those servicemembers to prove to themselves that they have abilities within them that they can carry over into everyday life, the general added.

"Our hope is that, by doing this every year, we can extend that down into all of our warrior care programs ... of increasing adaptive sports and physical activity and defeating these wounds," he said. "From that, it becomes part of the life of that servicemember, and it will expand into their everyday life and all the things that they do."

Adaptive sports rehabilitation has proven time and again to have a positive, long-lasting effect on wounded warriors, said Charlie Huebner, the Paralympics chief for the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Mr. Huebner noted that adaptive sports have positive effects on wounded veterans in their continued education, family life and in the work force, though that's not the Paralympics' goal.

Since 2003, the Paralympics have worked in partnership with the Veterans Affairs Department, providing adaptive sports therapy to veterans.

Through the annual Warrior Games, Huebner said, he hopes to expand their standing commitment to veterans and servicemembers.

"Our armed forces are the best in the world," he said. "And our athletes want to be the best in the world at the Olympic and Paralympics games. That is a core part of what we do at the U.S. Olympic Committee.

For more information or to request an application, Airmen can contact the Air Force Wounded Warrior office at 800-581-9437 or e-mail afwounded.warrior@randolph.af.mil. The deadline for applications is Jan. 15.