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Oklahoma Marine vet selected for 2017 Invictus Games

U.S. Marine Corps veteran Jessica Hammack, left, competes in the 800-meter race against Army veteran Carmalina Rowe at the 2016 DoD Warrior Games at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., on June 6, 2016.

JOSHUA BROWNLEE/U.S. ARMY

By JACOB MCGUIRE | The Norman Transcript, Okla. (Tribune News Service) | Published: August 14, 2017

The desire for competition never dies, at least not for Moore resident Jessica Hammack.

Hammack is a former Marine corporal who was medically discharged in 2011 after suffering from several injuries. She will be fighting through the pain in order to compete in the 2017 Invictus Games in Toronto, Ontario, at the end of September.

“The more I think about it, the more real it gets. I’m very excited. I get to represent Oklahoma, the USMC and the United States,” Hammack said.

The Invictus games, which originated in London in 2014, are scheduled to take place Sept. 23-30.

As a representative of the Marine Corps, Hammack will be competing in several events including track, shot put, discus, cycling and rowing.

“Marines competing in the Invictus Games, such as Jessica, are a direct representation of our core values of honor, courage and commitment,” said Marine 2nd Lt. Matthew Watson. “The Marine Corps encourages every Marine, regardless of duty status, to seek constant self-improvement and challenge themselves. This is something the Invictus games allows our warriors to do after they’ve been injured or wounded in the line of duty.”

Hammack won’t just be competing on behalf of the state, Marines or the U.S. She will also have the support of Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (ODMHSAS).

“We are very supportive of her efforts and all that she has accomplished,” department spokesperson Jeff Dismukes said. “It’s a great that she is using her experience to help others. We have many people like that here at ODMHSAS.”

Hammack said this isn’t the first time she’s been exposed to Paralympic-type games. She competed in the 2016 DoD Warrior Games in New York, and even took home some hardware.

“I was able to earn eight medals and broke the record in my disability classification,” she said.

According to Hammack, Invictus Games athletes aren’t split into weight classes or age. Instead, they compete against athletes that share the same level of disability.

Her disability story started while she was still in bootcamp when she suffered from a meniscus tear.

“It took two-and-a-half years before I found a surgeon who would be willing to do the surgery,” Hammack said.

However, that was just the beginning. Hammack said the injuries that affected her the most were the ones she received in a car wreck.

“I had sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI), and broke my top vertebrate,” she said. “I started to experience severe side effects (from the TBI). I had a hard time breathing and I could’t even write my own name. I’m very lucky for the support system that I had. My mom checked on me every morning.”

Hammack said the most beautiful feature about the games is everyone gets something different out of it.

“It’s a great way to try and rehabilitate through our injuries, no matter what they may be, either physical or mental,” she said. “I love the camaraderie and being around my fellow brothers and sisters, and people who have been and understand where you are coming from. It’s great to have that kind of environment and be pushed in that environment.”

Hammack has a GoFundMe page with a goal to raise $3,000 to help with training and equipment expenses.

©2017 The Norman Transcript (Norman, Okla.)
Visit The Norman Transcript (Norman, Okla.) at www.normantranscript.com
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