Versatile Warrior Games vet returns to lead Army team

| November 9, 2017 | 0 Comments

Jarred Vaina, a medically retired U.S. Army infantryman, pushes through the finish line during the track and field events for the Pacific Regional Trials hosted by the Tripler Army Medical Center Warrior Transition Battalion at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii Nov. 7, 2017. Wounded Warriors participate in the track and field events for the Pacific Regional Trials hosted by the Tripler Army Medical Center Warrior Transition Battalion. The weeklong wounded warrior sports competition is Nov. 6-10, at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. More than 80 wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans from across the Pacific region gather to compete in eight adaptive sporting events and for a chance to progress to the 2018 Department of Defense (DOD) Warrior Games. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Melissa Parrish, U.S. Army-Pacific Public Affairs)

Christopher Fields
Warrior Care and Transition

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — Retired U.S. Army Spc. Jay Vaina has returned this year in hopes of being afforded another opportunity to represent Team Army at the Department of Defense Warrior Games.

Vaina made his Warrior Games debut, last year, earning silver in shot put and sitting volleyball, and a gold in discus. He was also a key member of the gold medal winning wheelchair basketball team that beat Team Navy, 56-55.

U.S. Army veteran Jarred Vaina, from Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, competes for the wheelchair basketball competition for the 2017 Department of Defense Warrior Games at Chicago, Ill., July 1, 2017. The DOD Warrior Games are an adaptive sports competition for wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans. Approximately 265 athletes representing teams from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Special Operations Command, United Kingdom Armed Forces, and the Australian Defence Force will compete June 30 – July 8 in archery, cycling, track, field, shooting, sitting volleyball, swimming, and wheelchair basketball. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. P.J. Siquig)

With one DOD Warrior Games experience under his belt, Vaina doesn’t want to miss out on another one.

“I’ve been working hard, training hard, for another chance to compete. I also want to come back and beat Navy,” Vaina said, referring both to their loss to Navy in the sitting volleyball gold medal match and getting another win over them in wheelchair basketball.

Despite his quiet nature, Vaina is a fierce competitor and is aware, should he be named to Team Army again this year, he may need to take on more of a leadership role.

“Last year, I was able to sit back and just compete. This year, if I make it, I’ve got experience and I know what to expect, so I will be able to help others.”

Vaina has been working and training hard since last summer. One thing he has learned from his experience since the 2016 DOD Warrior Games is that conditioning plays a big part in the competition.

“The schedule last year was crazy, and conditioning-wise, I wasn’t ready and where I needed to be,” Vaina said. “So coming into this year, I’ve been working on my conditioning, doing more cardio. I’ve been cycling a lot more with Operation Comfort, which has helped my conditioning. I’ll be ready if I go to Colorado.”

Armed with DOD Warrior Games experience and a burning desire to beat Navy, Vaina is definitely one to keep your eye on through the trials phase of the Team Army selection process. If all goes well for him, Vaina may once again be one of the 40 members of Team Army and compete at the 2018 DOD Warrior Games, June 2-9, in Colorado Springs, Colorado. And if he is, Navy isn’t the only team that should be worried.

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