American Forces Press Service
First Lady Michelle Obama and Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, were among those who paid tribute to wounded warrior athletes at the opening of The 2012 Warrior Games in Colorado Springs, Colo., April 30.
Dempsey, accompanied by his wife Deanie, called the six-day event a powerful demonstration of the resilience of service members.
Athletes taking part in the third-annual competition are a reminder of what service members have endured during 10 years of war, and an important reminder of the ability of wounded warriors to lead successful lives after returning home, he told reporters ahead of the opening ceremony.
"What they provide us is an incredible example by what they do to overcome their disabilities," Dempsey said.
Adding, "They are resetting their lives, really, and to the rest of the force that’s also over ten years of war and deployments and different stresses and strains who might on occasion wonder can they really reinvent themselves as we all have to do at some point in our lives...I think they are an incredible inspiration to what is possible."
Obama said during the ceremony that one of the best parts of being first lady is meeting so many military members and their families as part of her "Joining Forces" campaign to rally all Americans to help military families.
"I get to see your strength and your determination," she said of her visits. "I get to see that up close, firsthand, as you tell me that you’re not just going to walk again, but you’re going to run and you’re going to run marathons. That’s what I hear.
"No matter how seriously you're injured, no matter what obstacles or setbacks you face, you just keep moving forward," she said.
Adding, "You just keep pushing yourselves to succeed in ways that just mystify and leave us all in awe."
Obama said the games are exciting because the perseverance of wounded warriors "is going to be on display for the entire world."
The U.S. Olympic Committee with the support of the Defense Department hosts the games in which injured or ill service members and veterans compete in a variety of athletic events.
Organizers say more than 200 competitors – drawn proportionately from the four services and the Coast Guard – are expected to take part in this year’s games.
"Every one of them has a different set of challenges, as do their families," Dempsey said.
He added, "It’s a great opportunity for me, as the chairman, to kind of build my understanding of those challenges but also, importantly, to thank the young men and women and their families and the organizations that are supporting them."