CAMP PENDLETON — For the ninth year in a row, nearly 200 wounded, ill or injured Marines, sailors, veterans and international allies will compete in the Marine Corps Trials.
The Marine Corps Trials is an adaptive sports event that promotes rehabilitation for recovering service members, giving them an opportunity for camaraderie with fellow Marines and providing a venue for showcasing both their mental and physical achievements.
The trials are hosted each year by the Wounded Warrior Regiment, which provides leadership and supports the integration of non-medical and medical care to combat and non-combat wounded, ill and injured Marines, sailors attached to Marine units and their family members. The regiment’s goal is to maximize recovery for Marines as they return to duty or transition to civilian life.
The Marine Corps Trials are part of the Wounded Warrior Regiment’s Warrior Athlete Reconditioning Program. Participants can bid for selection to compete in the annual Department of Defense Warrior Games, which will be held in Tampa Bay, Florida, in June.
Trial games start March 2 with the archery competition and will end March 9 with the swimming competition. Other events will include rowing, shooting, powerlifting, sitting volleyball, track and field, wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby.
The opening ceremony was held Feb. 26 in Camp Pendleton’s Paige Fieldhouse. During the ceremony, members of the Wounded Warrior Battalions West and East, and the international team of wounded warriors from Colombia, France, Georgia, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom marched in with their respective country’s flags and stood as their national anthems played.
Once everyone had arrived, the ceremony continued with words from Lt. Gen. Joseph Osterman, commanding general of the I Marine Expeditionary Force.
Osterman highlighted the importance of working toward a goal, particularly in the face of adversity.
“As I’ve become involved over the years with this program, I’ve come to realize just how important it is for all of us, particularly those that are working through adversity, to have something to work towards, something as a goal or a purpose,” he said. “That really is valuable in that recovery process, not only physically but mentally.”
Osterman said the trials do “far more greater good” than just encouraging people to work through their struggles in a positive way.
“These trials really are a testament to the resiliency and the mental fortitude of our warfighters,” he said. “They’re also just an amazing example I think for the rest of our militaries, and frankly for our citizens of our nations, to see men and women who really had the incredible fortitude, the incredible desire and the incredible drive to go ahead and push through challenges in order to go on to do great things.”
Osterman explained the trials are not just about participants working through struggles to get where they are today, but also demonstrating their athletic proficiency in the competition’s sports.
“It really is a great way to remind all of us when we look at what our challenges are personally, just who we can aspire to (be), who we look to emulate,” he said.
Samantha Nelson covers Oceanside, Camp Pendleton and the decommissioning San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. She earned her journalism degree from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, and has previously reported for The Athens Messenger in Athens, Ohio, and USA Today in McLean, Virginia. Follow her on Twitter: @samm1son