Team Navy/Coast Guard Welcomes New Athletes to 2012 Warrior Games


Story Number: NNS120427-13Release Date: 4/27/2012 2:27:00 PM
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By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Katherine Hofman, Chief of Naval Personnel Public Affairs

Colorado Springs, Colo. (NNS) -- Team Navy/Coast Guard welcomed 17 rookie athletes to the 2012 Warrior Games to be held May 1-5.

One newcomer to the Warrior Games is Gunner's Mate 1st Class Jeannette Tarqueno, who sustained a traumatic brain injury in December 2011 while deployed aboard USS Port Royal in the Middle East.

Following her accident, Traqueno has had to re-learn to walk and talk.

"My rehabilitation is great. I've had so much progress [that] I feel pretty normal," Tarqueno said.

Only three months after her TBI, she recently found out she passed the Chief's exam.

Pleased with her slow but steady recovery, Tarqueno was excited when she was notified about her selection onto Team Navy/Coast Guard.

"It's encouraging. I saw I wasn't going to have as many problems as I thought I would. Once you get started it all comes back," said Tarqueno.

Faced with balance issues, Tarqueno had to re-learn to ride a bicycle.

"I've always been active," Tarqueno said, "I have always played sports, danced, and been competitive."

She has learned that the Warrior Games are different.

"You learn you are not by yourself. [Warrior Athletes] have some of the same problems," said Tarqueno. "They help you and give you advice. Your family and friends can only do so much."

That spirit has supported Tarqueno with her participation in the Warrior Games.

"I'm going to do the best I can do and I'm never going to quit," Tarqueno said.

Tarqueno will be competing in cycling and swimming during the Warrior Games.

Retired Navy Aviation Machinist's Mate 2nd Class Brandon Griffith, diagnosed with leukemia in June 2010, was thrilled to learn he gained a spot on Team Navy/Coast Guard for Warrior Games 2012.

Having thrown shot put and competed on a rifle team in high school, Griffith is psyched to finally get reacquainted with the sports.

"I'm rusty, but I've learned a lot today on mechanics," Griffith said.

Griffith took his commitment to participating in the Warrior Games so seriously that when he found out he made the team, he bought a shot put and began to practice at his friend's house.

He is excited to have the chance to compete.

"I'm meeting people and having the Navy camaraderie, and getting to know people who know the Navy lingo. Being new, I'm getting to know more people [on the team] everyday," said Griffith.

Griffith is inspired by his fellow athletes.

"Everybody has their own story, their own hardship. It is amazing to see what [my teammates] can do. It doesn't matter what [injury] they have, they don't make it a big deal," Griffith said.

The 35 warrior athletes are participating as Team Navy/Coast Guard, sponsored by Navy Safe Harbor, the Navy and Coast Guard's wounded warrior support program, a key component of the Department of the Navy's 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative. The initiative is meant to maximize Sailor and Marine personal readiness, build resiliency and hone the most combat-effective force in the history of the Department of the Navy.

The Warrior Games, hosted by the U.S. Olympic Committee's paralympics military program, provides an opportunity for wounded, ill, and injured service members to participate in competitive sports against members of other branches of service.

For more information about Navy Safe Harbor, visit http://safeharbor.navylive.dodlive.mil, call 877-746-8563, or email safeharbor@navy.mil.

For more information, visit www.navy.mil, www.facebook.com/usnavy, or www.twitter.com/usnavy.

For more news from Chief of Naval Personnel, visit www.navy.mil/local/cnp/.

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