By David Kolmel
PEARL HARBOR — More than 100 athletes will gather for first Wounded Warrior Pacific Invitational (WWPI) in Honolulu, Jan. 8-10.
Members of Team Navy, which includes 40 Sailors and Coast Guardsmen, are preparing for competition by participating in a training camp at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Jan. 5-7.
The WWPI is the largest joint-service competition to take place outside of the annual Warrior Games and features wounded warrior athletes from the Navy, Marines, Army, Air Force, Coast Guard and Special Operations Command. The goal of the WWPI isn't to identify the most skilled athletes, but rather to showcase the potential of wounded warriors through athletic events.
"The main purpose is to highlight and bring to the forefront the wounded warrior initiative with the Navy and Coast Guard," said Senior Chief Aerographer's Mate Enrique Acosta, who was instrumental in planning the event. "This year we have all forces including SOCOM (Special Operations Command). So in a sense we are highlighting everyone's wounded warrior's initiatives."
Sailors from multiple commands throughout Hawaii are volunteering their time and efforts by helping the wounded warriors them get to various events and appointments and cheering them on during competition. These sponsors provide the athletes a sense of support, which has a lasting impact on their emotional well-being.
"When they come and meet other folks and they see the smiles and support from other Sailors, their families and the communities are giving, it's a rewarding experience for them and it really boosts their self-confidence," said U.S. Pacific Fleet Master Chief Marco Ramirez.
Acosta couldn't agree more.
"It allows the active duty members, the Reserve and the local community to invest their time," Acosta said. "Some of these injuries are life-debilitating; having all of the commands involved encourages them to keep going."
The WWPI provides adaptive athletic reconditioning, which helps build strength and ultimately results in fewer secondary medical conditions. The wounded warrior athletes will compete in cycling; seated volleyball; swimming; track and field; and wheelchair basketball.