By Sgt. Cuong Le, Defense Media Activity
ARLINGTON, Va. -- Service members came together Nov. 16-19, 2015, to participate in two joint service events as part of Warrior Care Month. The first event was the Joint Service Wheelchair Rugby Exhibition hosted at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, Nov. 16. The second event was the Joint Service Sitting Volleyball Tournament hosted at the Pentagon, Nov. 19.
The following events were hosted by the Air Force Wounded Warrior Program to help bring awareness to Warrior Care Month and provide wounded, ill or injured service members the opportunity to compete in some friendly competition. Warrior Care Month was established Nov. 2, 2010, to help wounded, ill or injured service members heal and return to the fight.
Attendees at the event include Marine Corps, Army, Navy, Air Force, and Special Operations Command service members.
“The importance of Warrior Care Month is to take care of the wounded, ill or injured warriors, so it is important that we stick together whether we were injured in combat or at home,” said retired Cpl. Jorge Salazar, a native of Delano, California.
The Joint Service Wheelchair Rugby Exhibition provided a unique opportunity for the wounded, ill or injured service members to take part in a full contact sport, while the Joint Service Sitting Volleyball Tournament gave the athletes a chance to compete against each other.
The Wheelchair Rugby Exhibition match marked the first time wounded service members in the American military were able to participate in a full contact sport.
“These games were made to help service members raise their confidence and make them feel like they can still do something, so in my case I can’t run anymore, but I can push really hard in a wheelchair,” said Salazar.
Since its inception, Warrior Care Month has evolved from aiding injured service members to providing them with the chance compete in athletic competitions.
“This is a special event that service members can do to stay in the fight and help motivate others,” said Cpl. Gabriel Beltres, a retired Marine at the event. “We might look different and we might seem different and it might look like we are out of the fight, but there is no such thing for service members, wounded, ill or injured. It only takes one to make a difference so that is what we aim to do.”