CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (WNCT) — Wounded, ill and injured Marines and Sailors are competing in the 11th Marine Corps Trials at Wounded Warrior Battalion-East now through April 30.
Historically, the Marine Corps Trials is a consolidated adaptive sports event involving more than 250 wounded, ill, and injured Marines, Sailors, veterans and international competitors. This year, to mitigate the risks associated with COVID-19, approximately 100 active-duty recovering service members will compete in smaller, regionalized groups.
There will be eight competitive events during the week-long trials. Those include archery, cycling, rowing, shooting, powerlifting, swimming, golf and track and field.
Wednesday’s trials featured recurve archery, highlighting men and women from across the U.S.
As part of the Warrior Athlete Reconditioning Program, the trials promote rehabilitation for recovering service members. It serves as an opportunity to cultivate camaraderie, the warrior ethos, and demonstrate the mental and physical achievements of service members.
GySgt Joseph Eatman is recovering from two traumatic brain injuries obtained while serving for the United States. He says the trials are a way for him to mentally recover.
“It’s a way to get your mind off the normal routine of things and just kind of let go and decompress,” said Eatman, recovering service member at Wounded Warrior Battalion-East. “It allows you just to relax, and that is one of the biggest things in the recovery effort. It allows you to focus on yourself and recover.”
Additionally, top participants of each event may be selected to compete in the annual Department of Defense Warrior Games.
“Each year, branches of the Department of Defense put on what is considered to be almost like a Paralympics for the recovering, wounded and injured service members,” said Eatman. “Every branch, the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, Army and Coast Guard come together and build teams for the wounded and injured to compete in almost like an Olympic games.”
He says being together is a way to come together as one team: the Marine Corps.
“Not enough people realize what is going on and what the Battalion does, what it means to these Marines,” said Eatman. “This is really good for recovery purposes, especially because you get to these games and you might see people from other services and branched that you may have served with, or went through traumatic events with. It’s just a really good atmosphere to be around.”