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Athletic events will showcase wounded warriors' skills, spirit

By STARS AND STRIPES Published: January 7, 2014

More than 100 wounded warriors will compete this week in the first-ever Wounded Warrior Pacific Invitational at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

The athletic events Wednesday through Friday are a precursor to the 2014 Warrior Games, an annual competition among wounded warriors from all branches of the military.

The Pacific Invitational will be an Olympic-style competition in which sports are modified to meet the abilities of the participants, and is open to service members with upper-body, lower-body and spinal cord injuries; serious illnesses; traumatic brain injuries; visual impairments; and post-traumatic stress disorder, the Air Force said.

"The goal of the Wounded Warrior Pacific Invitational isn't necessarily to identify the most skilled athletes, but rather to showcase the incredible potential of wounded warriors through competitive sports," said Tony Jasso, Air Force wounded warrior adapted sports program manager.

The athletes are training for two days prior to competing in cycling, seated volleyball, swimming, track and field, and wheelchair basketball.

Participating service members are from the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard and Special Operations Command and include active-duty and retired service members.

Members of Team Navy include 40 sailors and Coast Guard members. Thirty Air Force members also are participating.

The Pacific Invitational is the largest joint-service competition to take place outside of the annual Warrior Games.

The event is hosted by Navy Installations Command and Navy Region Hawaii and is supported by U.S. Pacific Fleet.

Sailors from multiple commands throughout Hawaii are volunteering time to help get the wounded warriors to events.

"Fitness and teamwork are a way of life in the military," Jasso said. "Serious illness or injury can profoundly impact that way of life, often confining a service member to a hospital bed and significantly altering his or her physical capabilities. Adaptive athletic reconditioning is proven to have positive and lasting effects on recovering service members' physical and emotional well-being."