Army veteran Ramon Guandique moves independently, but has to manage his balance, memory, and chronic pain from injuries during military service that included Iraq deployments.
Ramon joined a group of injured veterans from around the country at a Wounded Warrior Project®(WWP) adaptive sports clinic in Orlando, Florida, where veterans gathered to challenge their physical limitations and encourage each other.
During these multi-day clinics, WWP introduces veterans to popular sports that are modified for all types of injuries, including spinal cord injuries, amputations, impaired vision, and head trauma.
“My traumatic brain injury limits me from doing things I used to do, but this clinic helped me realize there are many things I can still do to stay in shape,” Ramon said. “This event was totally different from anything I had done before – it awakened new possibilities.”
Ramon said he noticed other warriors doing indoor rock climbing despite having impaired vision and was motivated to try it. He also tried jiu jitsu. “When you see other guys with more physical limitations doing sports, you ask yourself, ‘Why not me?’ You have no excuse not to try,” Ramon said.
Ramon’s wife, Nely, was there during the adaptive sports clinic and noticed how the physical activity took Ramon’s mind off other issues. “He was able to participate in new things and find a new purpose.”
WWP exposes wounded warriors to adaptive sports to help them gain confidence and knowledge of what’s available. Many continue to participate in adaptive sports on their own after returning home. Warriors never pay a penny for WWP programs – because they paid their dues on the battlefield.
In a WWP survey (https://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/survey) of the wounded warriors it serves, 32.6 percent of survey respondents expressed physical activity is one of the things that helps them cope with stress and emotional concerns. Programs like this highlight the importance of managing mental health through physical activity and connecting with other veterans.