The Wounded Warriors' Athletic Healing

May 11 2011, 9:33 AM

An exceptional group of athletes will convene next week in Colorado Springs, but you probably won't recognize their names and likely won't see their daily actions chronicled on ESPN. The Warrior Games were created by the U.S. Olympic Committee and the Department of Defense to emphasize the role of athletics in a wounded soldier's recovery. The series of competitions between injured and ill military men and women range from cycling and swimming to archery and wheelchair basketball (TheSkiChannel.com). More than 200 athletes will descend upon the U.S. Olympic Training Center from May 16 to 21, where last year's inaugural event was held.

Participation rates at Warrior Transition Units, Wounded Warrior Battalions/Detachments, and other Wounded Warrior programs have increased to 54 percent over the last two years, up from 31 percent. Employing athletic competition as a form of therapy for sometimes grave injuries has a potentially life-altering impact, soldiers say. Take U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Curtis Winston, who suffered multiple fractures in his right hand and left leg during an attack in Iraq and is now hoping to defend (or upgrade) his 2010 Warrior Games silver medal in archery (U.S. Army).