Caring for a wounded hero's mental health is just as important as their physical health. ABC Action News was given a behind the scenes look at a program using sports to show these heroes that there is life after service.
American heroes like Gabriel George, who retired from the Navy after five years of service, started archery about a month ago to get active and to feel a sense of comradery that he had when he was still in the Navy.
“It’s a competitive sport,” said George. “It’s a reawakening you could say.”
George was not injured in combat, but rather after he retired. He was heading home from bible study on his motorcycle, when a car hit him.
“I broke my C2, C5, six ribs, my collar bone, both lungs collapsed, paralyzed my right arm, and mild TBI [traumatic brain injury]. I was in a coma for three weeks and pronounced dead on the scene,” said George.
He’s very much alive today though, learning how to live his life with the use of only one arm. Gabriel is now learning how to use his teeth in archery. Much like the other wounded veterans who are taking part in this week’s Warrior Care Program camp, each of them use adaptive sports to help with their recoveries.
“To lose my right arm, it changed my world dramatically already. But to come do archery right here where it takes skill and technique and you have to perform, it blew my mind open,” said George.
Aside from George, everyone else at the camp today are members of Special Operations Forces in various branches of the military. Some of the athletes will even qualify for the Department of Defense’s Warrior Games. It’s an adaptive sports competition for wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans.
“Once you have been hurt in a dramatic way that changes your life, you lose a lot of hope in a lot of things, because you don’t think that you can do anything anymore,” said George.
He told us archery has shown him he’s on target to live his best life.
“It’s finding that there’s other things that you can do to keep living. Because we are still alive,” said George.
Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017, the Warrior Care Camp is hosting a seated volleyball exhibition match. It’s free and open to the public at East Lake High School at 1300 Silver Eagle Dr, Tarpon Springs, FL 34688 starting at 7pm.