Marine Corps Wounded Warrior Regiment -- MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. – The opening ceremony for the 2018 Marine Corps Trials took place at the Goettge Memorial Field House on MCB Camp Lejeune, N.C., March 17, for the first time in Marine Corps Trials history.
The Marine Corps Trials is a Paralympic-style adaptive sports event hosted by the Marine Corps Wounded Warrior Regiment, which promotes recovery and rehabilitation through adaptive sport participation and develops camaraderie among recovering service members (RSMs) and veterans.
RSMs from various countries came to compete against each other in sports such as wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball, archery and many more.
“The camaraderie is built during the sport events but afterward is where it’s really important,” said Maj. Timothy Wright, officer in charge, Wounded Warrior Battalion East. “They share stories and realize that it’s not just them that have had the issues that they sustained.”
Although there are language barriers it doesn’t stop any of the 2018 Marine Corps Trials athletes from getting to know one another.
“We’re always laughing, joking and the one thing that brings it home is we all have very similar lived experiences as military members,” said Australian Army Maj. Kelliegh Jackson.
Jackson is at the trials participating in every individual sport for the chance to win ultimate champion and gain new experiences that she can take back to Australia.
“Every event I’ve gone through, I’ve learned something new,” said Jackson. “I’ve only started swimming about a month ago and today I’ve learned to do my turns, so I’m already a winner.”
Jackson’s trying her hardest to win, but winning gold medals are not her priority.
“At the end of the day it doesn’t matter, I want to represent my country, share communion and fellowship with the other veterans and I want to be an inspiration to my soldiers who are back in Australia struggling with their own injuries,” said Jackson. “I want to show them that it doesn’t matter how many challenges you’ve got or how old you are. When someone says do you want to do this you say [heck] yeah, put your hand up and just go for it.”
The Wounded Warrior Regiment Warrior Athlete Reconditioning Program works every day with Marines and Sailors to further their recovery. The Marine Corps Trials provides a chance to showcase these efforts and the importance of adaptive sports to a greater population.
“One of the things I had to face as a recovering service member myself is that I had to readapt to my injuries, how to lift weights again and how to play golf again,” said Wright. “[The athletes are] doing the same things and realizing it actually works. It’s part of the confidence building of the trials showing that they’re not broken, they can continue to do what they love.”