Two retired Sailors and one retired Coast Guardsman were among the wounded warrior athletes invited to attend a prestigious event March 16 at the Embassy of Canada in Washington, D.C.
The event coincided with a video announcement from Britain’s Prince Harry that Canada will host the 2017 Invictus Games. The star-studded reception was attended by wounded warrior athletes from other branches of the U.S. military and other countries, as well as British, Canadian and U.S. senior officials; celebrities; and the media.
“2017 is a year steeped in rich Canadian military history,” said Prince Harry. “I cannot think of a better way to mark this milestone than by paying tribute to the soldiers and veterans who have served their country so bravely, and to support them along their journey to recovery.”
“You really will not want to miss this,” he added.
March 16 also marked the 50-day countdown to the 2016 Invictus Games, which will kick off May 8 in Orlando, Fla. The Invictus Games are the world’s only international adaptive sporting event for seriously wounded, ill and injured service members. Earlier this month, the Department of Defense publicly released the 115-person 2016 Team USA roster, which includes 18 Sailors and Coast Guardsmen.
“I am who I am now because I’m part of a team that has changed my life,” said retired Yeoman 3rd Class Kristin Esget, who will be the first female U.S. Coast Guardsman to compete at the Invcitus Games. “They have taught me that I am injured but not broken. I’ve learned to stay strong, because being strong is the only choice I have.”
Esget’s Navy teammates echoed her sentiments, and they discussed how excited they were to take part in the celebrations at the Canadian Embassy.
“The announcement made it real for us!” exclaimed retired Legalman 1st Class Shahnaz Askins. Retired Navy Airman Sadie Strong said she was really looking forward to meeting other wounded warrior athletes from different countries.
All three wounded warrior athletes are enrolled in Navy Wounded Warrior (NWW) – Safe Harbor, the Navy and Coast Guard’s support program for wounded warriors and their families. Adaptive sports – athletics activities modified to meet the needs of those with disabilities – are among the many services provided by NWW.
Canadian actor Mike Myers gave an emotional speech at the event at the Canadian Embassy, sharing stories about his parents’ experiences while serving the Canadian military.
“I am inspired to help generate a wider understanding and respect for those who serve their country, as well as their families and caregivers,” said Myers.
To learn more about the Invictus Games – and to access a complete Team USA roster – visit www.invictusgames2016.org.