Marines

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John Fuller, Wounded Warrior Archery coach, instructs Marine Corps wounded warriors on the proper technique in drawing back the bowstring during the Archery Wounded Warrior Sports Camp at the archery range aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Oct. 6 through 10. One of multiple summer sports camps designed to prepare wounded warriors for the upcoming Wounded Warrior Games in Colorado Springs, Colo., in May 2011, the archery camp draws wounded warriors from across the country to learn the proper procedures of archery.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Jonathan G. Wright

Overcoming physical limitations: Wounded Warriors participate in archery camp

7 Oct 2010 | Lance Cpl. Jonathan G. Wright

When the word “sport” is used, many people may immediately think of peak physical fitness, elevated levels of testosterone and a general “alpha-male” regime. The first notion is that sports are played solely for the competition, bragging rights and sometimes money, yet the aspect of physical and mental therapy is sometimes overlooked.

The practice of many sporting activities can ultimately be fashioned into a form of dynamic therapy, which is something the Warrior Athlete Reconditioning program of Wounded Warrior Battalion – East has long since recognized and displayed in their Archery Wounded Warrior Sports Camp at the archery range aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Oct. 6 through 10.

“The mission of the Warrior Athlete Reconditioning program is to give the wounded warriors the opportunity to be physically active in their wounded state,” said Capt. Steven Miller, officer in charge of the WAR program. “Part of the healing process is to get them back to what they are used to doing, even with their injury or impairment.”

The archery camp, which is one of several upcoming wounded warrior sports camps, is in preparation for the Wounded Warrior Games in Colorado Springs, Colo., May 2011. Wounded warriors from each branch of the Department of Defense will come together under one roof and compete in fierce but friendly competition. Wounded Marines from WWBN - East, Wounded Warrior Battalion – West and satellite detachments who were interested in the camp came to Camp Lejeune to attend.

“Last year, the Marine team walked away with one silver and one gold medal,” said John Fuller, Wounded Warrior Archery coach. “Not only do they like the competition aspect of archery, but it also helps their recovery processes. Drawing the bowstring can help strengthen any shoulder injuries while concentrating on the target can help focus the mind of someone with (post traumatic stress disorder).”

Cpl. Paul Kocina, attached to WWBN – West, is recovering from double compound fractures in both legs; the scars of multiple operations are up and down his legs, and his left leg is currently in a brace. However, as opposed to sitting in his room waiting for his next check-up, he has traveled across the country to participate in the archery camp.

“I’m the only one sitting in a chair as I shoot, but the whole point of these games is to adapt and make it work,” said Kocina. “I’m not doing so bad so far, I can only keep progressing and having fun.”

Attitudes like Kocina’s are what makes these wounded warriors endure their injuries and overcome any weaknesses that would leave many stuck in a rut. These warriors engage themselves in these sports to further aid in their recovery process while also giving them something to look forward to and engage their interest.

“These camps and eventual competitions are something else to do other than taking medication or waiting for the next doctor’s appointment,” said Miller. “By doing these activities, they stay active and keep away from going down the depression road that some go down.”

For more information about the archery camp, future sports camps or the WAR program, call 449-9556.