PARKER, Colo.—The United States Air Force Academy will host the 2018 DOD Warrior games beginning Friday, June 1. The nine-day event will host about 300 wounded service members and veterans competing to be the best in the armed services. One of the athletes competing this year, Russ Slocum, a retired Navy commander getting ready for his first Warrior Games.
Russ Slocum uses his backyard to get for the Warrior Games.
“There really is nowhere you can formally go to train, so you have to adapt and go somewhere that has a 10-meter course. It just happened that I was lucky enough the side of my house worked out well,” Slocum said.
Russ is a retired Navy Commander who spent 32 years in Navy Special Operations. He will compete in the standing rifle, standing pistol, and a few swimming events in the Warrior Games.
“The more practice you do and the more you learn how to breathe the more you can focus, and you do have to be fit because there are long-standing periods where you are going to have to gut through it,” Slocum said.
After 9/11 Russ was recalled to active duty, and on his last deployment in Afghanistan, he was injured in a training exercise. The injury to his brain, neck, and forced him into retirement from the Navy. But while his time with the military has ended, his connection to his fellow brothers and sisters in the armed services never went away. The Special Operations Command Care Coalition, an organization that helps wounded service members transition into civilian life, began reaching out to Russ.
“It was amazing the benefit that I personally have gotten the therapeutic value of not only being with the brotherhood or my special operations brother and sisters but the therapy of outdoor events, sporting events, have been tremendous for me,” he said.
Showing him the benefits of adaptive sports and helped him get the confidence he needed to compete in this year’s Warriors games.
“Well sure you want to win at everything at life, I’m very competitive, that’s probably why I joined special operations, because they are the cream of the crop the best of the best and it’s fun to compete against those folks and have that comradery that I was so use to all those years,” he said.
But it’s not all about winning for Russ. It’s about getting the chance to honor those that have served our country.
“I can do this for not only those that can’t, but those have given the ultimate sacrifice with their lives, I’m not representing me, I’m representing a group of individuals that have given and some have given it all for the cause, it’s very personal to me,” Slocum said.
The Warrior Games start on June 1 and run through June 9, and the event is free and open to the public. Visitors will just need to bring a valid government ID.