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Health and Fitness

Wounded Sailors Find Safe Harbor

Life happens, and sometimes it changes our bodies and minds in ways we could never imagine. You never walk into a barber shop expecting a haircut only to leave in an ambulance with a slashed throat. That's what happened to Chief Yeoman Tim Vaughn.

Sailors just like Vaugh are working and standing watch for the United States around the globe every moment of every day. Unfortunately, like him, a number of these service members will be in the wrong place at the wrong time. A few will be wounded on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier deployed to the Pacific. Others will be on their way home from dinner back in the States on a Saturday night and get hit by a drunk driver. Some will survive an explosion in combat and go on to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. This is the reality of life for service members: It happens; life happens.

To the Navy, these Sailors are all wounded warriors, no matter how they were injured or whether their injuries are visible or not. The Navy Wounded Warrior - Safe Harbor program is here to help these service members enroll in a recovery and support program once their medical needs have been met.

Safe Harbor works with service members who are still on active duty as well as medically retired to create a recovery plan that fits their individual needs. These plans also focus on helping families prepare for the potential loss of income, become aware of the benefits available to them, and also ensure the emotional well-being of service members and their families.

One of the benefits Safe Harbor offers to promote emotional well-being in these Sailors is the annual Navy Wounded Warrior Training Camp and trials, a lead up and preliminary to the Department of Defense's Warrior Games. The camp is designed to transform wounded Sailors and Coast Guardsmen into athletes, encourage them to continue to stay active and healthy and to push themselves to do things they think are impossible. Athletes who wish to compete in the Warrior Games will be selected at the camp and will go on to represent Team Navy during the games, scheduled for June 2018.

"Even though I'm still on active duty, I might look like I'm healed on the outside, not on the inside," said Vaughn. "Safe Harbor, bringing all these guys out here to [the Wounded Warrior Training Camp] from all over the U.S. is amazing."

Every athlete attending the camp is enrolled in multiple sports training events. After honing their skills, they'll compete in multiple events at the Warrior Games.

"I have never done any of these events before," said Vaughn. "I have never competed in any of these, and have never wanted to do it more, now that I have experienced the trials and now I'm going to the games."

Husband and wife coaching team, Ramona and Ken Pagel, have been working for the Navy Wounded Warrior - Safe Harbor program for a number of years, and say they have been inspired by the Sailors they work with.

To view the "Broken Open" story click here.

To view the "Fish out of Water" story click here.