Wounded veterans have skills to ‘spare’ in bowling competition

Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) 2nd Class Ivan Valencia prepares to bowl.

Story and photos by MC1 Jeffrey Troutman

Navy Public Affairs Support Element
Detachment Hawaii

An all-service bowling competition for wounded veterans took place at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Nov. 28, in commemoration of the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Warrior Care Month.

The event was hosted by the Navy and Coast Guard Wounded Warrior Program, Navy Region Hawaii, and featured teams from the Navy, Marines and Army playing for bragging rights and the honor of hosting next year’s competition.

The bowling competition was the first of its kind for the Hawaii’s Wounded Warrior Program, and will be an annual event open to all branches of service.

Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) 2nd Class Ivan Valencia is set to knock down some pins.

“The most gratifying part of today, for me personally, was seeing the smiles and laughter among our Wounded Warriors, and watching them compete as a team,” said Margo Crane, N95 Region program director for the Navy and Coast Guard Wounded Warrior Program, Navy Region Hawaii.

“All of these service members are injured, ill, or wounded, and are struggling to find what we call a ‘new normal,’ in that they are learning who they will be and how to move along their recovery path post injury or illness. Coming together strengthens and improves morale, and instills a sense of purpose and camaraderie across the services on our island.”

Though the Army’s bowling team ultimately emerged victorious in the inaugural event, Chief Fire Controlman Ricky Davis stressed that all members of the Wounded Warrior Program were winners when participating with the community in such events.

“Service members in the Wounded Warrior program are some of the most courageous men and women you will ever meet,” Davis said. “Just being in each other’s company and having each other’s support is worth coming out to events like this.”

Senior Chief Culinary Specialist Anthony Pone said a Wounded Warrior service member’s responsibilities to their respective commands and fellow service members never goes away, something Hawaii’s Wounded Warrior program members stand by.

Members of the Army Cadre 1 bowling team pose with a trophy following the bowling competition.

“We’re based on an island, so the community is built on selfless people who are here to help each other and continue to mentor our service members,” Pone said. “Events like these help us get that word out, meet new members in the program, and ensure their journey back to health is a productive one.”

On Nov. 5, 2008, then-Secretary of Defense Robert F. Gates established November as Warrior Care Month, as a “Department of Defense-wide effort aimed at increasing awareness of programs and resources available to wounded, ill, and injured service members, their families, and those who care about them.”

Gates charged the Department of Defense to “continue to make it easier for our troops and their families to take advantage of all the assistance now available to them.”

Every year, the DoD, military services and collaborating organizations use the month of November to celebrate the strength and resilience — physically, mentally, and spiritually — of our wounded, ill, and injured service members, as well as their families and caregivers, raise awareness of the warrior care resources and programs available today, and inspire year-round discourse regarding today’s warrior care priorities.

This year’s theme for Warrior Care Month, as in years past, was “Show of Strength,” represented in the physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, familial, and career-readiness activities that service members and their families and caregivers engage to overcome challenges.

For more information,visit www.greatlifehawaii.com/family-support/wounded-warrior.

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Category: Life & Leisure