PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii - More than 100 athletes will gather for the first-ever Wounded Warrior Pacific Invitational (WWPI) in Honolulu, Jan. 8-10. Members of Team Navy, which includes 40 Sailors and Coast Guardsmen, are preparing for competition by participating in a training camp at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Jan. 5-7.
The WWPI is the largest joint-service competition to take place outside of the annual Warrior Games and features wounded warrior athletes from the Navy, Marines, Army, Air Force, Coast Guard and Special Operations Command. The goal of the WWPI isn't to identify the most skilled athletes, but rather to showcase the potential of wounded warriors through athletic events.
"The main purpose is to highlight and bring to the forefront the wounded warrior initiative with the Navy and Coast Guard," said Senior Chief Aerographer's Mate Enrique Acosta, who was instrumental in planning the event. "This year we have all forces including SOCOM (Special Operations Command). So in a sense we are highlighting everyone's wounded warrior's initiatives."
Sailors from multiple commands throughout Hawaii are volunteering their time and efforts by helping the wounded warriors get to various events and appointments and cheering them on during competition. These sponsors provide the athletes a sense of support, which has a lasting impact on their emotional well-being.
"When they come and meet other folks and they see the smiles and support from other Sailors, their families and the communities are giving, it's a rewarding experience for them and it really boosts their self-confidence," said U.S. Pacific Fleet Master Chief Marco Ramirez.
Acosta couldn't agree more.
"It allows the active-duty members, the Reserve and the local community to invest their time," Acosta said. "Some of these injuries are life-debilitating; having all of the commands involved encourages them to keep going."
The WWPI provides adaptive athletic reconditioning, which helps build strength and ultimately results in fewer secondary medical conditions. The wounded warrior athletes will compete in cycling; seated volleyball; swimming; track and field; and wheelchair basketball.
"We keep the wounded warriors engaged and we provide that avenue for them to be rehabilitated, have the conditioning and medical attention that they need," Acosta said.
Not only does this benefit the wounded warriors, but it provides a rewarding experience for those who support the event.
"It's a pleasure for me and it's one of the most rewarding things I can do," Ramirez said. "As someone in the Navy, we carry out our missions, but when we can go and give back to our Sailors for what they have given us; it's an opportunity that I look forward to."
The event is hosted by Commander, Navy Installations Command (N95) headquarters and Navy Region Hawaii, and is supported by U.S. Pacific Fleet.
N95 is Navy Wounded Warrior – Safe Harbor, the Navy's sole wounded warrior support program. It provides non-medical assistance to seriously wounded, ill and injured Sailors and Coast Guardsmen. To learn more visit http://safeharbor.navylive.dodlive.mil, call 855-NAVY WWP (855-628-9997) or email email@example.com.