Warrior Games in Chicago Spotlight Wounded Athletes

warrior games

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.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Military Connection: Jon Stewart Training Vets to Work in the “Biz”


By Debbie Gregory.

Jon Stewart is running a five-week industry training session for Army Veterans who want to get into the television business.While the pop-culture comic is a constant critic against the Iraq war, he is unwavering in his commitment to help Iraq Veterans.

Stewart is winding down his hosting duties on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show. Accused by some of misinforming its core audience of young adults about international news, The Daily Show doesn’t hide the fact that it’s not a news program, and only uses newsworthy stories as a jumping-off point to satire.

Stewart and The Daily Show, which has been on the air since 1996, have been working on this training program for three years, albeit under the radar.

Nathan Witmer was one of the Veterans who joined Stewart’s boot camp. The former leader of an Army scout platoon during the 2008 troop surge in Iraq went on to work at Fox News. He was then hired by The Daily Show as an associate field segment producer.

“We hear ‘Thank you for your service’ all the time, but here was concrete action, people working to really make a difference. And it changed lives. I’m proof of that,” said Witmer.

At the same time that Stewart has been serving up pointed satire against the war in Iraq, he’s been a supporter of Veterans, making hospital visits and doing a stand-up tour of bases in Afghanistan.

Now he’s trying to help them get into an industry traditionally hard to break into. Stewart is also encouraging others in the industry to follow his lead, encouraging others to “franchise” his idea.

“Please steal our idea,” Stewart said. “It isn’t charity. To be good in this business you have to bring in different voices from different places, and we have this wealth of experience that just wasn’t being tapped.”

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Military Connection: Jon Stewart Training Vets to Work in the “Biz”: by Debbie Gregory