By Steve Van Der Werff, U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery
First-time competitor Hospitalman Katriana Durakovich said competing in archery and cycling at the DoD Warrior Games 2015 meant the world to her.
Durakovich joined the Navy nearly three years ago in 2012, opting for what the Navy had to offer: a sense of pride, discipline and a chance to see travel the world. She chose to become a corpsman because she always enjoyed taking care of people and was significantly influenced by her grandfather, a 21-year Marine veteran, and knew from him that Navy corpsmen deploy with the Marines.
In August 2013, while serving in Guam, she was admitted to the hospital for ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease,which eventually led to a stroke. She was left speechless and completely paralyzed on her right side.
She was then transferred to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC), in Bethesda, Maryland to have her colon completely repaired. Still on active duty and in recovery she is currently stationed at WRNMMC working with service dogs and participating in music therapy.
Before her illness, Durakovich worked in U.S. Naval Hospital Guam’s emergency room, where she enjoyed the long hours and worked alongside her Navy Medicine colleagues. Even when her health was declining, her resiliency was evident.
Today, she takes comfort in believing that her current status will help her discover new ways to live life and fulfil her duties. She hopes to become a physical therapist someday, and plans to use her experience to inspire others.
Competitive since childhood, the York, Pennsylvania native wore a pair of Rosie the Riveter socks throughout the competition to remind her of the WWII icon’s “we can do it” attitude, crediting Rosie for “taking it one day at a time.”
Warrior Games 2015 gave her the opportunity to make new connections with fellow competitors while bonding with Team Navy teammates, who have helped her, become a better competitor and influenced her to positively go forward with the next steps in her life.
If she can’t do something in the traditional manner she quickly adapts, which was evident during the archery competition. Unable to firmly hold an arrow with her right hand, she held the arrows in her mouth until released.
As she puts it, “instead of proving others wrong and showing them up, I prove myself wrong, and show myself up.”
She was overwhelmed with the number of spectators that attended Warrior Games, which reinforced her determination to compete and succeed. She will tell you that she competes for herself, and Team Navy, but mostly to reassure her family that she’s ok.