The Army Trials Family

WTU Force Structure U.S. Army veteran Ryan Major and Spc. Stephanie Morris of the Walter Reed WTU are reunited before the welcoming event during Warrior Care and Transition's Army Trials at Fort Bliss Texas, March 28, 2017. About 80 wounded, ill and injured active duty Soldiers and Veterans competed in eight different sports 2-6 April for the opportunity to represent Team Army at the 2017 Department of Defense Warrior Games. (Photo Credit: Corrie Poland, Warrior Care and Transition)

By Corrie Poland, Warrior Care and Transition

The sand no longer clung to their skin, made sticky by the hot sun. The day's sweat had been washed away and they found relief in the shade that slowly crept away from the building. Low chattering gave way to jubilant laughs, and the sense of belonging whirled around them like the strong winds known to El Paso this time of year.

The 80 men and women about to enter the Centennial Club on Fort Bliss, Tx. were wounded, ill and injured Soldiers and veterans participating in the 2017 Army Trials, an adaptive sporting event hosted by the U.S. Army Warrior Care and Transition program. They had traveled hundreds, even thousands, of miles from their homes and Warrior Transition Units where they are recovering, to compete in sports such as wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball, seated discus and shotput, and swimming. The goal: score a spot on Team Army and go on to compete in the 2017 Department of Defense Warrior Games in June.

The Army Trials are just one aspect of the Warrior Care and Transition Program. Soldiers recovering at WTUs are guided through a holistic recovery plan with six key areas of focus: career, physical, emotional, social, family and spiritual. Cadre such as occupational therapists, physical therapists, career and education specialists and case managers help each Soldier remain successful, whether they are returning to duty or transitioning to veteran status.

10 days earlier, many of them had met for the first time, but as they entered the building for the closing ceremony, there was not a stranger among them. Despite their fatigued muscles after days of intense training and competition, their smiles persisted. If asked, any of the wounded warriors would tell you that competing in the Army Trials does not make rivalries, it makes family.

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