NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. (AFNS) --
More than 120 wounded warriors from the Air Force and Army gathered on the first day of March to officially open the sixth annual Air Force Trials at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada.
One of those was Senior Airman Kevin Green, a healthcare management technician with the 920th Aeromedical Staging Squadron, Patrick Air Force Base, Florida, who had his left foot amputated following a motorcycle accident. Green fought hard to be returned to duty after the accident and eventually won the battle.
The Air Force Trials, which run through March 7, are part of an adaptive sports program designed to promote the mental and physical well-being of the wounded, ill and injured service members who participate.
The Paralympic-style competitive event showcases the resiliency of wounded warriors and highlights the effectiveness of adaptive sports as part of their recovery. It also highlights the impact the Wounded Warrior program, or AFW2, has in helping with the restorative care of wounded warriors enrolled in the program.
The Trials are also a test of the athletes’ resiliency, strength and endurance, according to Col. Michael Flatten, Air Force Wounded Warrior Program director.
“It’s vitally important for their recovery we rebuild their sense of purpose, their sense of self and their sense of confidence,” said Flatten, during remarks at the ceremony. “Everybody in the world is going to tell them what they can’t do, we’re here to tell them what they can.”
The event features 10 different adaptive sports: powerlifting, cycling, wheelchair rugby, swimming, shooting, rowing, track and field, archery, wheelchair basketball and sitting volleyball.
Green won the gold in cycling--he took first place in the 20K cycling event. "I hope to make the Air Force Team to participate in the 2019 Warrior Games in Tampa, Florida," said Green.
Greene found out the hard way that donning the Air Force uniform again after his accident wasn’t an easy feat. During his first year of recovery, he had a lot of work ahead of him to get back into top physical shape.
“I went into the hospital at 182 pounds and I left at 120 pounds,” he said. “I was in my wheelchair a lot those first few months, and I wasn’t eating,” said Green.
After getting fitted with his first prosthetic in March 2015, he decided the road to recovery was best walked. Nearly four years later and now he finds himself walking, running, cycling and winning.
The Air Force Trials is the primary selection location for the 40 primary and 10 alternate members of Team Air Force at the 2019 Department of Defense Warrior Games June 21-30, in Tampa, Florida.
“It’s an awesome day here at Nellis,” said Air Force Personnel Center command chief Chief Master Sgt. Kenneth Lindsey. “The intent of this event is to promote the health, wellness and recovery of seriously wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans,” said Lindsey. “During these trials, participants will build comradery and confidence as they continue to recover.”
This year, the participants are made up of 53 active duty, 15 Air Reserve Component and 72 Air Force veterans. Also attending the Trials were 32 caregivers, who play an important role in athlete care and recovery.
The Trials are part of the Air Force’s Wounded Warrior program (AFW2), which is a congressionally mandated and federally funded organization administered by AFPC in San Antonio, Texas. The program includes recovery care coordinators, non-medical care managers and other professionals who work with wounded warriors, their families and caregivers to guide them through various day-to-day challenges.
The DoD Warrior Games is an annual event recognizing the importance adaptive sports plays in the recovery and rehabilitation of the wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans.
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Watch this video for more information about Green's story.