Written by Patty Babb, Team Navy outreach coordinator
The 39 seriously wounded, ill and injured Sailors and Coast Guardsmen who competed on behalf of Team Navy won 43 medals – including 12 gold medals – at the sixth annual DoD Warrior Games held recently in Quantico, Virginia.
It was Team Navy’s best showing – topping the 31 medals the team won at the 2012 games – since the event’s inception in 2010.
Among the medalists was Petty Officer 1st Class Jamie Byrd, who, in addition to winning a bronze medal in archery, brought home a bronze medal in shooting.
His Coast Guard teammates, retired Lt. Sancho Johnson and retired Petty Officer 3rd Class Krissy Esget, did not bring home medals this year, but they were deeply impacted by the experience.
“I honestly would have to say the best part of the event was actually just being able to be a part of it,” said Esget, who was new to the DoD Warrior Games. “It was a very humbling experience. I was surrounded by men and women who came from not only different branches of our Armed Forces, but also our allies the United Kingdom. These men and women have been injured in war – or in unfortunate accidents, like me – or been diagnosed with devastating illnesses. We got to come together and compete to show we may have been hurt, but we are not broken.”
In 2011, Esget was hit by as a pedestrian by drunk driver, and it uprooted her life. She sustained a traumatic brain injury – which resulted in cognitive issues, insomnia and aphasia – and damaged her right knee. Eventually, she was medically separated from the Coast Guard.
During the DoD Warrior Games, Esget competed in shooting and swimming events. She placed fourth during the nail-biting finals in a rifle competition. In swimming, she placed fifth in a women’s 100-meter freestyle race, missing a medal by less than one minute.
“This event was a huge step in my mental recovery which means more than any medal I could ever receive,” said Esget. “I want to thank all of my coaches, my family and friends, and Navy Wounded Warrior (NWW) – Safe Harbor for standing behind me. It showed me I’m not alone.”
Esget added that her teammates have been a tremendous source of support – during competition and beyond.
“I learned with this group of fantastic people that it’s OK to be different,” she said. “This is where out new normal comes into play. We do our best and that’s all we can do.”
Learn more about Navy Wounded Warrior by visiting their website or by calling 855-NAVY WWP.