Injured military compete in Valor Games
About 100 injured military veterans and those on active duty are competing against each other this week in the Valor Games Southeast. The games opened Tuesday at UNC Chapel Hill, continued Wednesday at Duke University and wrap up today at the N.C. State Fairgrounds.
On Wednesday in and around Cameron Indoor Stadium at Duke, athletes competed in archery, indoor rowing, table tennis and power lifting. The games, sponsored by the Veterans Administration and U.S. Paralympics, were open to wounded, ill and injured veterans.
Under mostly cloudy skies Wednesday near the Krzyzewskiville sign, archers aimed for their targets. Robert Resor, 32, an Army veteran, watched the competition. He lives in Randolph County, but is well familiar with Durham, where he comes weekly to the Durham VA Medical Center.
Resor was serving in Iraq in transportation, attached to the 82nd Airborne Division, from 2007 to 2008. A truck driver, he was injured when his truck hit an improvised explosive device.
“I fell six and a half feet, landed on one leg and shattered everything in my ankle,” he said. “I’ve had six surgeries and it’s still not right.” Resor uses a cane.
On Tuesday, he competed in the Valor Games air rifle competition. “I didn’t do as good as I thought I could – 119 out of 200,” he said. Resor did do well in power lifting Wednesday, and was planning to compete in rowing next.
This is Resor’s first time at the Valor Games.
“It’s the first event I thought about coming to do. Normally I stay home, and didn’t do much. My therapist told me they were having these games, so I thought, ‘Why not?’”
Resor lives in the small city of Trinity. “There ain’t nothing out there. That’s how I like it,” he said. He came home in 2010 after being in a wounded warrior transition battalion at Fort Bliss, Tex.
He comes to the Durham VAMC for treatment for traumatic brain injury, too. “I bounced around in my head, too,” Resor said as a result of the IED attack. Resor’s mother and caregiver, Deborah Resor, listed his diagnoses – moderate TBI, moderate to severe PTSD and crushed right ankle.
Robert Resor said he met other veterans from other states at the games. “It feels like -- even though I don’t know them -- it feels like family for a time,” he said.
Next to the archery range, U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class William Ruth, 38, had his bow and was ready to compete. He said he got smoked in air rifle Tuesday at UNC, but expected to medal in rowing after competing Wednesday morning. Ruth, originally from Cooperstown, N.Y., came down with a group of veterans from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.
Ruth has been in the Army for more than 20 years, joining after high school graduation. He is a 19D reconnaissance scout with the 101st Airborne Division, 4th Brigade Combat Team out of Fort Campbell, Ky. He is receiving treatment on his lower legs, spine and a head injury sustained in Afghanistan in 2009. This is Ruth’s first Valor Games.
“I’m a competitor, and I want to compete,” he said. Also, “you get that camaraderie and s--- talking we do in the military to help each other succeed. It helps you heal. You push yourself and find new limits,” Ruth said. “When you’re injured, you keep changing your reality, changing your limits to get to what your old goal used to be.”
The games are conducted by Durham nonprofit Bridge II Sports, which creates opportunities for physically challenged children and adults to participate in team and individual sports.
Ashley Thomas, executive director of Bridge II Sports, said Wednesday that “we are honored to serve those who serve us, and build hope, courage and valor again.”