Rifle class for Wounded Warriors is step toward rehabilitation

Spc. Thomas Venet, assigned to Wiesbaden's Warrior Transition Unit Battalion, places a pellet inside the chamber of an air rifle during a military adaptive sports event.


By ERIC A. BROWN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: January 16, 2014

WIESBADEN, Germany — Pellets were shot downrange at Wiesbaden High School’s brand-new marksmanship range — not by students, but by a group of Wounded Warriors taking an air rifle safety class.

Adaptive sports is one of a series of steps soldiers assigned to the Warrior Transition Unit go through as part of the rehabilitation process.

Support from the community is important, and the Wiesbaden WTU’s Military Adaptive Sports site coordinator, Dr. Linda Steil, hopes initiatives like these will help build a soldier’s confidence and support reintegration back to duty, or transition to the civilian sector.

“We want them active,” Steil said. “We want them reintegrating socially.”

Among the seven wounded warriors who took part in the shooting class Wednesday was Spc. Thomas Venet, an Army mechanic, who suffered a traumatic brain injury from a rocket blast while on deployment with the 2nd Infantry Division to Baghdad between 2006 and 2008. Venet plans to leave the Army soon and hopes to work as a technician. “It’s a better opportunity to get your ducks in a row and get ready to transition,” he said of the WTU rehabilitation process.

Participants who excel in adaptive sports could move on to participate in Warrior Games, said Sgt. 1st Class Angel Rodriguezortiz, platoon sergeant for the Warrior Transition Unit. “This is a chance to bring them back to what they love to do,” he said.

In Warrior Games, athletes compete in modified competition such as sitting volleyball, wheelchair basketball, swimming, cycling, track & field, archery and marksmanship.

Making the marksmanship range available to the WTU “is a great way for the school to show our support for our wounded warriors,” said Col. (Ret.) Darryl Hensley, the Warriors’ Marksmanship coach and senior Army instructor for Wiesbaden’s Junior ROTC program.


Spc. Thomas Venet, assigned to Wiesbaden's Warrior Transition Unit talks with fellow warriors on Jan 16. Warriors assigned to the WTU received an air rifle safety class before firing air rifles in a process known as Adaptive Sports Reconditioning.


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