Back to Top Skip to main content

Military Adaptive Sports Program aids with healing our Wounded Warriors

Man in wheelchair race A Special Operations Forces wounded warrior competes in the Warrior Games selection camp at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, in February. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of this year's Warrior Games. (DoD Photo by Roger L. Wollenberg)

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care | Total Force Fitness

Retired Army Col. Michael Malone soldiered through combat deployments, traumatic brain injuries, and a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder. But after he became ill during a deployment in Kuwait, his military career ended. Malone was diagnosed with chronic multisymptom illness, and he credits the Department of Defense's Military Adaptive Sports Program, or MASP, with giving him focus and direction for his post-service life.

"When you end up in the Warrior Transition Program, as I did, it's because you're very sick or very injured," Malone said. "So you're in a really dark place. Adaptive sports allowed me to feel competitive again and build my athletic skills. And emotionally, the program really facilitated my recovery."

MASP is part of the DoD Warrior Care Program. It provides reconditioning activities and competitive athletic opportunities for wounded, ill, and injured service members and veterans. The Military Health System is shining a spotlight on MASP for National Therapeutic Recreation Week, which highlights the importance of recreational therapy to enhance physical and emotional healing.

"Through adaptive sports, service members and veterans can improve their physical and mental quality of life throughout the continuum of recovery and transition," said Sandra Mason, director of the Warrior Care Office's Recovery Coordination Program, which includes adaptive sports.

The military draws men and women who are active, outgoing, and fit, Mason said. "Now imagine becoming injured or sick. There's a lot that goes through your mind – what do I do now? What can I do now? MASP is an avenue to gain confidence, to learn that despite what's happened, you're capable of living a productive and fulfilling life."   

Men sitting on floor playing volleyball
Athletes compete in sitting volleyball during the 2019 Warrior Games in Tampa, Florida. (DoD Photo by Roger L. Wollenberg)

Mason said each service runs its own adaptive sports program following the DoD office’s guidance and policies. The services partner with volunteer organizations to offer coaching and training in activities including archery, golf, and track and field.  

Mason explained that since the Warrior Care Office began collecting data in 2016, MASP has held more than 198 clinics, five camps, and 26 regional competitions for approximately 7,000 service members and veterans enrolled. 

"I got into swimming again," Malone said. "And I learned archery. I found it really meditative. It allowed me to focus on the moment, focus on the target, and just forget about my injuries and my illness."

Another benefit, Malone says, is meeting and competing with others who are experiencing similar struggles. "You don't really have to talk about how you're feeling physically," he said. "There's acceptance of who you are and where you are in your journey."

MASP participants experience reduced stress, lowered blood pressure, and weight management, Mason said.

"The program has rebuilt his confidence," said Malone's wife, Jennifer Mok. "And it's made him a lot happier."

The culminating event of MASP is the Warrior Games, an annual competition for wounded, ill, and injured service members in 12 adaptive sports: archery, cycling, golf, indoor rowing, powerlifting, shooting, sitting volleyball, swimming, track and field, wheelchair basketball, and wheelchair rugby.

The 2020 games were scheduled to occur in San Antonio Sept. 20-28 with 300 U.S. active-duty and veteran athletes as well as international military teams. But the COVID-19 pandemic forced cancellation of the event. This year would have marked the 10th anniversary.

“The entire warrior care community is disappointed," said Marine Corps Maj. Leslie Harkness, operations officer of the Marine Corps’ Wounded Warrior Regiment, in a prepared statement. Harkness was lead planner for the 2020 Warrior Games. Harkness said canceling the event was the best option to ensure athletes and supporters remain healthy and safe.

Malone previously competed in the Warrior Games in swimming, archery, and cycling. He and Mok are training on their own for the Marine Corps Marathon. Malone will compete in a handcycle, which is a three-wheeled vehicle powered by arms instead of legs. Mok is running as part of a military connected fundraising team.

Mason noted that the pandemic has caused a pivot to virtual MASP events. They include video demonstrations of sports, and interviews with Paralympians and coaches.

"It's a challenging environment," Mason said. "We've had to be creative, and it's been successful. But we're all looking forward to when it's safe to resume in-person activities."

You also may be interested in...

One Marine’s journey to recovery through adaptive sports

Article
1/15/2021
Woman in wheelchair on podium; holding up prosthetic leg

Marine veteran Annika Hutsler credits Military Adaptive Sports for helping her transition to civilian life.

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care

OWF and DFAS support injured Soldier on his path to success

Article
1/8/2021
Two men holding onto an award

Soper is now a recruiter for DFAS’ “Hire a Hero Program.”

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care

DoD Compensation and Benefits Handbook

Publication
12/28/2020

The purpose of this handbook is to provide Service members and their support networks with a reference guide to answer some of the most pressing questions that arise for wounded, ill, and/or injured Service members.

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care | DoD Compensation and Benefits Handbook

OWF sailor finds a sense of purpose with ICE internship

Article
12/22/2020
Woman holding award plaque, surrounded by colleagues

OWF coordinates non-funded federal internships between qualified wounded, ill and injured service members and a variety of federal agencies..

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care

Military medicine confronts an invisible enemy

Article
12/4/2020
Medical personnel set up in an outside military tent

The collective response to the pandemic underscored the MHS reputation for innovation, with practical applications beyond military medicine.

Recommended Content:

Combat Support | Warrior Care | Public Health | Coronavirus | Heroes Behind the Mask | December Toolkit

The Walkups: Army service is in their blood

Article
12/1/2020
Five young men standing in a line, wearing the same t-shirt and pants

Of his seven living siblings, two are active-duty Army captains and two more are in Army’s Reserve Officers’ Training Course (ROTC).

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care

MHS Minute: November 2020

Video
11/27/2020
Image of MHS Minute Carousel

During Warrior Care Month, we reflect on the strength and resilience of our nation's wounded, ill, and injured service members, and recognize the caregivers who support their recovery and rehabilitation.

Recommended Content:

November Toolkit | Heroes Behind the Mask | Heroes Behind the Mask | Warrior Care

Navy military caregiver pays it forward

Article
11/16/2020
Group of men and women on a stage, some standing, some sitting

The Warrior Games and Warrior Care Recovery Coordination Program helped the Cozad family understand their new reality.

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care | Physical Disability

Recovering service members, not just a number with OWF

Article
11/10/2020
image of Mr. Rodriguez in uniform

OWF is a...program that matches qualified wounded, ill and injured service members with non-funded federal internships.

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care

Warrior Care RCP’s multitude of programs supports the Warfighter

Article
11/6/2020
Three men shooting arrows at targets

Since 2008, The Department of Defense has recognized November as Warrior Care Month.

Recommended Content:

November Toolkit | Warrior Care

PREVENTS aimed at reducing Service Member and Veteran suicide

Article
9/9/2020
Group of airmen hugging each other

In our nation, suicide has increased by 33% over the last 25 years across all demographics.

Recommended Content:

Suicide Prevention | Mental Health Care | Warrior Care | September Toolkit | Total Force Fitness

OWF Program assists Wounded Warrior obtain FBI internship

Article
8/18/2020
Photo of woman wearing glasses in a white blouse

Staff Sgt. Amy Arenas received her dream internship through DoD Warrior Care Program Operation Warfighter.

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care

Caregivers sometimes unaware of support available

Article
2/21/2020
Caregiver Stacey Rivera and Navy Wounded Warrior staff canoe around Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam during the Military Caregiver Workshop. (Photo by Gabrielle Arias, Peer Support Coordinator, DHA Recovery Care Program, San Diego)

February 21 is National Caregivers Day

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care

From call centers to advanced prosthetics, R&D aids wounded warriors

Article
11/26/2019
The Real Warriors Campaign leverages social media to promote a culture of support for psychological health while providing vital resources for the military community. The campaign currently has more than 50,000 followers on Twitter and continues to grow. (Courtesy photo from the Real Warriors Campaign)

DHA’s Research and Development Directorate continues to innovate health care for current and former service members

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care

Navigating the road to recovery through the healing arts

Article
11/25/2019
Wounded, ill, and injured Air Force and Marine Corps service members and veterans participate in "A Day of Healing Arts: From Clinic to Community" during Warrior Care Month at National Harbor in Maryland, Nov. 21, 2019. (DoD photo by Roger L. Wollenberg)

“A Day of Healing Arts” showcases the talents of service members

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care
<< < 1 2 3 4 > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 4

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.