2016 Warrior Games: One Great Purpose

| June 24, 2016 | 0 Comments
Photo by Spc. Tynisha Daniel, 319th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment U.S. Army Veteran, Sgt. 1st. Class Fred Lewis of Lahaina, Hawaii, conducts conditioning drills in preparation for the 2016 Department of Defense Warrior Games at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, June 12. The DOD Warrior Games is an adaptive sports competition for wounded, ill and injured service members and Veterans. Athletes representing teams from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, United States Special Operations Command and the United Kingdom Armed Forces compete in track, field, archery, cycling, shooting, swimming, sitting volleyball, and wheelchair basketball.

Photo by Spc. Tynisha Daniel, 319th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
U.S. Army Veteran, Sgt. 1st. Class Fred Lewis of Lahaina, Hawaii, conducts conditioning drills in preparation for the 2016 Department of Defense Warrior Games at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, June 12. The DOD Warrior Games is an adaptive sports competition for wounded, ill and injured service members and Veterans. Athletes representing teams from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, United States Special Operations Command and the United Kingdom Armed Forces compete in track, field, archery, cycling, shooting, swimming, sitting volleyball, and wheelchair basketball.

Spc. Tynisha Daniel
319th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Many service members have difficulty transitioning from a life in uniform to a life without one. Whether it’s returning home from war or a lengthy deployment, the challenge of adjusting to civilian life can be both mentally and physically trying.

Army veteran (Sgt. 1st. Class) Fred Lewis, a member of the U.S. Special Operations Command team at this year’s Warrior Games, can attest to that.

On Aug. 8, 2008, Lewis was wounded on the battlefield resulting in a series of injuries including hearing loss, seizures, migraines, tendonitis and post traumatic stress disorder. Shortly after receiving these injuries, he was discharged from active military service.

“I needed to find my purpose again,” said Lewis. “One day the Army was my entire life and the next I was out.”

His transition from military to civilian life was difficult, Lewis continued.

“When first discharged I turned into a hermit and basically went into hiding,” he said. “I just wanted to be away from everything.”

In effort to ease into civilian life, Lewis worked as a government-contracted instructor teaching at the U.S. Special Operations Combat Medic Course at Fort Bragg, N.C.

“I loved the job but being around that environment was not conducive to my healing,” said Lewis.

Taking on the role of instructing Soldiers in his previous occupation in the military so soon after his injury and being in a military environment was stressful explained Lewis. After three years of teaching, he and his family picked up and moved to Hawaii and it was there that he found that purpose.

“I put myself in the best environment I could and tried to make sure I was healthy and happy by not being around negative energy and stress,” said Lewis.

Although medication or adaptive sports like Warrior Games can play a big part in healing, there are other ways for personal healing and growth, according to Lewis.

“I enjoy hiking, stand-up paddleboarding, running and I grow my own food,” said Lewis. “I once had a garden the size of a football field.”

He considers all of these activities as ways of coping with his transition. To raise awareness for wounded veterans and assist in their healing, Lewis and a team of seven other veterans established Vetscape in December 2015. Vetscape educates and trains veterans on ways to combat PTSD and disabilities through challenging mental and physical activities in a supportive environment. The nonprofit organization aims to teach veterans how to take care of themselves and reintegrate into their communities.

“It’s all about helping to establish a purpose in life again, and teaching vets how to feel good about themselves,” said Lewis.

To learn more about USSOCOM’s Care Coalition transition programs, visit http://www.socom.mil/Care% 20Coalition/Transition.aspx.

Photo by Pfc. Tianna S. Wilson, 55th Combat Camera U.S. Army Veteran Sgt. Blake Johnson, of Honolulu, Hawaii, reaches for the basketball, during a 2016 Department of Defense Warrior Games wheelchair basketball match, in Arvin Gym, at the United States Military Academy, at West Point, New York, June 18.

Photo by Pfc. Tianna S. Wilson, 55th Combat Camera
U.S. Army Veteran Sgt. Blake Johnson, of Honolulu, Hawaii, reaches for the basketball, during a 2016 Department of Defense Warrior Games wheelchair basketball match, in Arvin Gym, at the United States Military Academy, at West Point, New York, June 18.

Category: Community, DVIDS, Health, Wounded Warriors

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