By Debbie Gregory.
The Warrior Games, taking place this year for the first time in Chicago, spotlights wounded, ill or injured service members and veteran athletes as they compete in Paralympics-style sporting events.
The Warrior Games were launched in 2010 as a way to encourage veterans’ participation in adaptive sports and celebrate their achievements.
Emcee Jon Stewart, formerly of the “Daily Show” hosted the opening on July 1st. Offering opening remarks was Ken Fisher, Chairman and CEO of Fisher House Foundation.
The games are not only important for the athletes, but also for their families. For many competitors, this is the first time their family is seeing them after rehabilitation and recognizing that there is life after injury.
Besides the U.S. athletes, teams from the United Kingdom and Australia are also competing.
In 2008, Congress directed the Department of Defense to establish wounded warrior programs across each of the service branches
Navy Capt. Brent Breining, director of the Games, said “The country is looking for heroes right now, and these Americans are true heroes,” Breining said. “They served their nation, put their lives on the line, and now this is an opportunity to come and support them.”
Breining added, “All these service members and veterans are pulled out of their teams on the front line because of their illnesses and injuries, and we put them back on a team.”
To qualify for the Games, athletes must be enrolled in one of the Department of Defense’s wounded warrior programs.
The competition runs through July 8 at locations including McCormick Place, United Center, the Museum Campus and Lane Tech College Prep High School.