By Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Krystal Cavett
This week, more than 50 medical volunteers are providing support to the Wounded Warrior Pacific Trials in Honolulu, Hawaii. And it’s my job to coordinate all of them.
The trials have brought together approximately 60 seriously wounded, ill and injured Sailors and Coast Guardsmen from across the country. They are competing in seven different sports – archery; cycling; shooting; sitting volleyball; swimming; track and field; and wheelchair basketball – during four action-packed days.
The athletes are grappling with a variety of medical conditions. Some lost limbs or sustained traumatic brain injuries during a combat deployment. Others are confined to wheelchairs after motorcycle or traffic accidents. Several are fighting cancer – or other serious illnesses – with all the strength they can summon. Some struggle with post-traumatic stress after a life-changing experience shook them deeply.
The medical volunteers are serving as safety observers during competition, and addressing any medical needs that surface or injuries that occur. From swollen knees after track and field practice, to jammed fingers after wheelchair basketball scrimmage, to bruises from volleyball spikes, we’ve seen it all.
This volunteering opportunity is very different than most. I know it’s been an especially eye-opening experience for my fellow volunteers.
For example, each athlete is enrolled in Navy Wounded Warrior – Safe Harbor, the Navy and Coast Guard’s wounded warrior support program. Many volunteers initially assumed that the term “wounded warrior” only applied to those wounded in combat.
But, in fact, anyone who has experienced a serious illness and injury is considered for enrollment. And every enrollee is a warrior – they just fight different conditions in different ways.
For me, this week’s event is an opportunity to give back to shipmates who have given so much. And it’s an incredibly humbling experience.
I am attached to Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet (COMPACFLT), and I serve as the medical co-lead for the island of Oahu. It’s a big job, and a great learning opportunity. Participating in the planning and execution of this event has been an important part of that learning opportunity. And it has been among the most rewarding experiences of my six-year Navy career.
The other day, my daughter Emma attended a sitting volleyball practice. She’s still too young to understand what the trials are all about. But, when I can explain it to her, I will tell her that the trials serve as a reminder that, no matter what life throws at you, you can overcome any obstacle. Life is what you make of it
These athletes personify resilience. Life has thrown them for a loop, and they are making the best of it. They are getting back in the game – literally and figuratively. It’s an inspiration to my family, to my fellow volunteers and to me.
To learn more about the Wounded Warrior Pacific Trials, visit http://www.greatlifehawaii.com/events/1f90d888-8f3c-46c5-8a72-8a399060135d; also, get the latest news about Team Navy at www.facebook.com/navysafeharbor.