Representing my “Brothers in Arms”
Representing with my Brothers in Arms
By Jen Lee: 10/16/2017
This past weekend the U.S. National Sled Hockey Team held its second training camp of the season in Charlotte, North Carolina. It was another routine training camp, 4 days from Thursday-Sunday and skating 2x a day. As the team prepared to wrap up its second to last practice of the weekend, the coach directed the team to take a quick photo requested by the local fans who watched us practice. When we began to form up as a group, I can’t help but notice the military veterans currently playing on this team. Back in 2010-2011, I was one of the three military veterans who made the national team and also represented the military armed forces on the possibility of making it all the way to the Paralympic games. This was the first time the US national team has military veterans on board, and it was definitely a start of more veterans to come in the future. I also served in the Army at the time, and I thought it was cool to represent my country as a soldier, and as an athlete. Little did I know the Army has a program for soldier athlete called, The World Class Army Program (WCAP) . WCAP’s main purpose is to provide and support training to compete and succeed in national and international competitions leading to Olympic and Paralympic Games, while maintaining a professional military career and promoting the U.S. Army to the world. It was an awesome program for the Army to have, and I was proud to know the Army are willing to support their soldiers that has a potential athletic ability to reach their sport in a professional level when I got accepted to that program. Ever since the initial wave of military veterans making the national team, there are currently 7 military veterans competing on the 2017-2018 roster: Rico Roman (Army), Luke McDermott (Marine), Paul Schaus (Marine), Travis Dodson (Marine), Ralph DeQuebec (Marine), Josh Misiewicz (Marine), and myself (Jen Lee).
As we’re getting ready to take the picture, I felt proud (I know, I know, a bit corny) to compete alongside with my brothers in arms. The reason why I’m honored to compete with them is because out of the 7 veterans, I’ am the only veteran who was not injured in combat. The rest of 6 veterans were either injured in Iraq or Afghanistan due to an IED blast, or in a fire fight with the enemy. It was definitely a sucky feeling at first to feel you sort of “don’t belong to the group” because you weren’t combat injured. It took me a while to finally getting used to be around the combat wounded veterans because I always felt I needed to prove that I belong there. It was never easy when someone come up to you and asked, “Hey son, were you in the service? How did you lose your leg?” Even though I served in Iraq (06-07) during my military career, it was a tough pill for me to swallow when I see the confused and disappointment on people’s face when I told them I wasn’t injured in combat. But soon I realized one of many positive evaluations I learned from the combat vets while I was rehabbing was they don’t give it damn what other people think. As long you always work your tail off and never make an excuse for yourself, who cares what others think about you. Their hard working, tough minded, grit attitude they demonstrated the first week I was there inspired me to always give a 110% in everything I do. Knowing most of them were able to keep a positive attitude made me realized I can accomplish in anything I put my mind into. So for guys like Rico, Josh, Luke, Travis, Ralph, and Paul, I know what it takes to get here. This road was not easy one as all of us had to battle our own demon by overcoming our injuries, and accepting who we were going to be for the rest of our lives. I am blessed and humble to not only granting the opportunity to rehab with these warriors, but also play alongside on the national team with them.