Invictus Wrap up - "It takes a village"

Invictus Wrap up - 'It takes a village' Col. Mathew St Laurent gives some encouragement and shares a laugh with retired Staff Sgt. Bobby Green, who recovered at the Fort Sam Houston WTB. (Photo by Annette Gomes)

By Annette Gomes (with MaryTherese Griffin), Warrior Care and Transition

Per Webster's Dictionary, Invictus means "Unconquered, unsubdued, invincible".

Prince Harry knew what he was doing when he established the Invictus Games in 2014 following a visit to the 2013 Warrior Games. As the only international adaptive sporting event for wounded, ill and injured active duty and veteran service members the name is spot on.

The Invictus Games 2017, held in Toronto, Ontario, saw 550 competitors from 17 nations compete in 12 events. The host city's motto, proudly displayed in its coat of arms, is "Diversity Our Strength" which describes the strength of its seven municipalities and also the strength of Invictus Games.

Diversity and strength were on display throughout the event in the athletes, in the stands, sponsorships and governments. You could say it takes a village to show strength through diversity and the Invictus Games athletes and families epitomized it.

Col. Mathew St Laurent, Deputy Chief of Staff, Warrior Care and Transition and head of the Army's Warrior Care and Transition Program, was overwhelmed by the displays of love, gratitude, and support that permeated the event. Athletes and families from different nations coming together to support not only their own nation, but everyone involved. This was Col St Laurent's first time attending the Invictus Games and he was able to witness the Invictus Spirit. "[Invictus Games] brought us together, to cheer, encourage, hug, and socialize so our warriors and families can tell their stories, demonstrate their abilities, despite having disabilities, and share the experience with our citizenry," St Laurent said of the event. He was also encouraged by the involvement of the public, corporate, and nonprofit worlds who supported the event and were able to "witness the greatness in resiliency and competitive spirit of our wounded warriors."

The majority of people in the world will never experience combat. For our service members who have and suffered an injury or illness while on duty, finding motivation to continue while not being defined by that injury or illness is mind boggling. That's the beauty of the Invictus Games and the WCTP. The end state for both is the same.

We Came, We Saw, We're Unconquered was a slogan seen all over Toronto. For those who were not there or don't have the slightest idea the "why" behind the Invictus Games or what happens in the WCTP, St Laurent wants them to know that at their core, they are about taking care of Soldiers and service members. Something he feels the American public should know and care about.

"The American people need to care how we treat our service members, veterans, and families who serve their country and also know they are well cared for after their service to our great nation," St Laurent said. "Understanding that DoD and the Army care enough to support and provide resources for the Services Wounded Warrior Programs is very important for the public to understand. It is their precious vote, their tax dollars that are the means for securing our nation."

While the Invictus Games have come to an end for this year, the village and community that was formed there remains and will continue to grow. Strength through diversity is alive and well and the Invictus Spirit will continue to live on inside all those who witnessed the Invictus Games. In a year's time, it will rise again as the Games head to Sydney, Australia where the village and its strength will keep growing…Game On Down Under!