Showcasing resiliency at Hurlburt

  • Published
  • By Shawn Sprayberry
  • Air Force Wounded Warrior Program

The 1st Special Operations Wing (SOW) at Hurlburt Field, Fla., is hosting the Air Force Wounded Warrior Program’s (AFW2) Southeast Region Warrior CARE Event and Warrior Games team training, April 13th through the 19th.  

“This is the first time we’ve gone to Hurlburt,” said Col. Michael “FN” Flatten, AFW2 director. “Over the last few years we’ve worked closely with the 96th Training Wing at Eglin, who have done a phenomenal job of hosting our wounded warriors. The goal has always been to increase awareness of the program and we felt that going to the same base every year did not meet the intent. This year we’re doing the majority of our training and outreach at Hurlburt, where we’re hoping to educate and inform a whole new group of airmen and leaders on how the program can help them in their time of need.”

Over 140 wounded warriors are attending the CARE event, a holistic healing program meant to offer access to support programs to aid in their long-term recovery and resiliency while showing them new tools they can use in their restorative care. The AFW2 CARE event offers access to Caregiver Program, and Adaptive Sports Program training, Ambassador Program and Recovering Airman Mentorship workshops and Empowerment in Transition education. Additional support includes resiliency programs featuring music, art, and improvisational comedy workshops along with medical support to aid in recovery during the event.

“Everything we offer is meant to enhance restorative care for our wounded warriors,” said Marsha Gonzales, AFW2 support branch chief. “We’ve seen dramatic improvement in warriors who were stuck in the mindset of what they ‘can’t’ do. We show them what they are capable of doing and by the third day their attitudes have changed. The arc from when they first arrive to when they suddenly realize how much they are capable of is fast, and for the staff, is truly rewarding.”

This event is also an opportunity for 46 members of Team Air Force to train in preparation for the 2019 Department of Defense Warrior Games in Tampa, Fla., June 21st through the 30th. The annual competition is a Paralympic-style adaptive sports event featuring twelve sports, including wheelchair rugby, sitting volleyball, wheelchair basketball, track/field, swimming, cycling, powerlifting, archery, shooting, wheelchair tennis, golf and indoor rowing.

“We offer this training event for the team as it’s the one time they’ll be able to gather together before heading to Tampa,” said Ms. Gonzales. “It’s the only real chance we have of making sure they’re staying on track with their training. It also gives us the opportunity to showcase to the new warriors attending how Warrior Games and adaptive sports aids in recovery and long-term resilience.”

Retired Staff Sgt. Jordan Lee-Fatt, a maintenance management analyst from Sunrise, Fla., earned a primary position representing the Air Force for Warrior Games this year. He says the competition is important to him and other warriors like him and represents how adaptive sports has helped him in his recovery.

“It has given me an opportunity to see how much stronger I can get as a person,” he said. “It’ll challenge me mentally and physically to a level I haven’t seen before. I love the competition and it fuels me and plenty others.”

The CARE event is one of 6 events held every year by AFW2. The next one will be held on Ramstein AB, Germany in July, marking the very first time we’ve held an event in Europe. Learn more about CARE events here. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for updates throughout the week.