The inaugural Warrior Games wrapped up last week at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. It was a sports competition for about 200 wounded, ill and injured service members.
Army Capt. Juan Guerrero from Brooke Army Medical Center was one of the competitors. Guerrero, who fought in Desert Storm, was on his third tour in Iraq when a a roadside bomb ripped through his Humvee.
"If it wasn't for my medic, I would have lost at least my right leg from the get-go. But because of the training we always conducted on our downtime, he was able to do exactly what he was trained to do and as a result saved my legs," Guerrero says.
However, Guerrero did lose part of his right calf and left heel. The Army moved Guerrero to Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, D.C., where he spent four-and-a-half months recovering.
For Guerrero and many who are injured, athletics can become an outlet for physical and emotional recovery. Add in a bit of competition and that's the idea behind the first-ever Warrior Games. The competition pits the five military branches against one another in seven sports, including cycling, track, swimming and wheelchair basketball.
"It really just proves so much for our service members that there is life after an injury," says Brig. Gen. Gary Cheek, who oversees the Army's units for wounded warriors. "They're going to reinforce some things they already knew about abilities that they have. But they're going to discover some new things."
Guerrero competed in three sports: sitting volleyball, cycling and prone air rifle shooting. He won the gold medal in the shooting competition. The gold came down to his last shot, and he says, the message of perseverance is important.
"Try it, and if you don't succeed, try again," he says.