As part of the reorganization of the cycle of care for wounded airmen, AFW2 has restructured their adaptive sports camp schedule to use sports beyond training for the Warrior Games as an important part of the physical and mental health of Airmen. By allowing these wounded warriors to participate in new social settings, on a team, and as mentors, Airmen learn skills they can take back home and adapt to their needs. It’s an inspirational process to be a part of, and truly rewarding for the participants.
AFA staff was on hand to participate, along with representatives from the Las Vegas-based Thunderbird Chapter, including Chapter President Robert Cunningham who attended and was recognized at the Welcome Ceremony. Mr. Cunningham was able to meet some of the Airmen in the program, and watch the archery practice on the third day of camp. For some of the warriors, the camp was literally adaptive. For one Airman who only had use of one arm, he used a bow braced against his legs while seated on the ground, with incredible aim. Others used weights and straps for balance in discus and shot put, and some with use of their legs learned to play seated volleyball and wheelchair basketball. Along with swimming, track, cycling, and yoga, there was something for everyone of every level of ability, which was the aim.
I was given the opportunity to talk about AFA and our Wounded Airman Program, and connect with the local AFA members, like Bob Sullivan, who, in his work with the USO, made sure that the airport knew of the warriors’ arrivals, and brought water for the athletes, which was much appreciated in the summer heat!
AFA National hosted the welcome ceremony at the hotel, which was the first time many of the warriors were meeting each other. Mentors gave testimonials, and Airmen from Nellis were able to participate as well. This was a great way to kick off the week, and was much appreciated, as budgets are tight for most of the Airmen participating. The chef at the Tropicana, a former Marine, even donated extra food for the team. It was a great week, and I was honored to be a part of it. There is definitely a place for AFA at all future camps! They will be held regionally to give all wounded Airmen the chance to participate.