Navy Medical Center San Diego Hosts Paralympics Military Sports Camp for Wounded Warriors

Story Number: NNS101007-19Release Date: 10/7/2010 5:11:00 PM
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By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Travis K. Mendoza, Naval Medical Center San Diego Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- More than 60 wounded warriors, including Afghanistan and Iraq war veterans, participated in a four-day U.S. Olympic Committee-sponsored Paralympics Military Sports Camp Oct. 4-7 in San Diego.

The camp, which was designed to introduce Paralympics sports to active duty military personnel and veterans with physical injuries kicked off at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., and concluded at the Naval Medical Center San Diego.

"In a nutshell the Paralympics Sports Camp is a camp that offers service members who have been injured, through many various injuries, a way to get back to being healthy, and active," said John Register, associate director of community and military programs for the U.S. Olympic Committee.

A number of services participated in the event including members from the Navy, Marine Corps, Army and Air Force from various parts of the U.S., along with members of the Israeli and British armed forces. The camp's main events included archery, cycling, sitting volleyball, strength and conditioning, swimming, biathlon, rowing and track and field.

"I think it's a way for the U.S. Paralympics to get involved with the military, and help show service members the opportunities they have to be U.S. Paralympics athletes, or to just get them back into sports, and get them back on the road to recovery," said Keith Kennedy, a clinic technician for the swimming events.

Kennedy emphasized the importance of providing wounded warriors with a sport they can participate in and continue to enjoy whether or not they choose to compete.

"I think that it's different with each individual disability they come home with," said Kennedy. "The ones that are a lot more severe are obviously going to take a lot more time."

And for those who choose to pursue a sport more seriously, the Paralympics camp organizers said they would like to see them take it a step further.

"These sport camps are regular events, they happen four to five times a year," added Register. "Each camp is on different levels though, so that we can adhere to the various abilities, and injuries of each individual service member."

"I hope we can find a U.S. Paralympics Athlete out of this event," said Register. "That is our goal."

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Former Army Spc. Erik Hjeltnes is taught to draw and fire a bow with his teeth.
101005-N-7981E-781 SAN DIEGO (Oct. 5, 2010) Former Army Spc. Erik Hjeltnes is taught to draw and fire a bow with his teeth by retired Army Cpl. Kevin Stone, a 2004 and 2008 Team U.S.A. Paralympic gold medalist and a current world record holder, during the U.S. Olympic Committee Paralympic Military Sports Camp at Naval Medical Center San Diego. More than 60 injured service members from U.S., British, and Israeli armed forces participated in the four-day event designed to introduce paralympic sport to active duty military personnel and veterans with physical injuries. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class James R. Evans)
October 6, 2010
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