Skip to main content

Military Health System

Wounded Sailor Ready to Lead Navy Wounded Warrior Marksmen to Victory

Image of Roel Espino and Retired AZ3 Elizabeth “Ellie” Smith at Navy Warrior Games Training Camp. Coach Roel Espino assists Retired AZ3 Elizabeth “Ellie” Smith with air rifle during the Navy Warrior Games Training Camp at Port Hueneme - Naval Base Ventura County, California

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care – A Show of Strength | Warrior Care

While the Military Adaptive Sports Program has opened the door for hundreds of recovering service members, their families, and their caregivers – for one athlete this program has led to a special opportunity.

Previous Warrior Games Navy athlete, Roel Espino, recently transitioned from athlete to coach. With his first Warrior Games in 2014 in Norfolk, Virginia, Espino competed in shooting and archery.

But at the Warrior Game Trials on Naval Base Coronado this May, Espino helped coach the Navy's Wounded Warrior Shooting Team. His journey from recovering service member to coach is one to recognize.

Espino's wounded warrior journey began in 2013, when he was involved in a motorcycle accident.

"I had a lot of abrasions, but more cognitive and neurological issues from the crash, such as TBI, PTSD, and short-term memory loss," added Espino.

When getting involved in adaptive sports, Espino added, "I had reservations coming in as an athlete, I was able body, so nobody was able to see the wounds from which I was suffering. After being in it, you receive knowledge that comes with participating, such as networking, benefits, and additional programs that are here to help you."

After participating in the Warrior Games in 2017, Espino retired from the Navy and finished competing as a wounded warrior. However, he continued to shoot on local shooting ranges in southern California.

When an opening became available at Navy Wounded Warrior for a team shooting coach, coaches Bob McMullin and David Kime recommended Espino. Espino shares, "I was hired as a coach, 2 years now, and it has been exciting! It is fun seeing the athletes progress and they are really blowing my mind."

"Coming back as a coach, I could apply military situations to things on the range" explained the Navy veteran. "Comparing military experiences to these competitions translates a lot better for the military athletes. Adaptive sports build your confidence and lets you know that just because you're hurt doesn't mean you're out of the fight."

Espino added, "Adaptive sports changes lives. It teaches you different ways of how to play a sport and life skills. I know a common theme among the athletes is that they are still angry at their situation and getting through and over that anger is a huge hurdle when trying to apply everyday life."

Espino continued, " I tell every athlete, "You could either be the life of your own pity party or you could do something about it. I've had athletes with terminal illnesses come back and bounce back stronger than the last time I saw them. It makes you really appreciate everything around you. If they can do it, then so can I."

Although the past two years the Warrior Games have been cancelled due to the pandemic, Espino shared, "I understand the need to cancel, especially when some of the athletes have immune issues. It was crushing for some of the athletes, but you must look at it into a positive aspect. We couldn't compete this year, but that gives us more time to prepare. And we are prepared!"

"Representing the Navy as a coach is exciting. I thought my last time would be in 2017 when I competed in Hawaii, but they called me back and I'm able to wear the same colors again," continued Espino. "Warrior Games matter because these men and women made a promise to the American people that they would put their lives on the line for our freedoms. Unfortunately, sometimes we get hurt. Warrior Games is only a fraction of what we could do for American soldiers and veterans. You can't put a price on happiness."

This year, the Warrior Games will take place at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Florida.

You also may be interested in...

Retiring Wounded Warrior Continues to Serve His Military Community

Article
12/6/2022
U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer Blake Conley and family

Despite a career-ending cancer diagnosis, U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer Blake Conley prepares to retire after more than 20 years serving his nation with a positive outlook and a desire to keep serving.

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care | Warrior Care – A Show of Strength

DHA's E Caregiver Directory Puts Resources at Your Fingertips

Article
11/30/2022
Woman on left stretching her husband's left arm and right leg

Caregivers now have needed resources at their fingertips on their mobile phones, tablets, and computers.

Recommended Content:

Brain Injury Awareness To Improve Readiness | Mental Health: Seeking Care with TRICARE | Suicide Prevention Toolkit | Warrior Care – A Show of Strength | Mental Health is Health Care

U.S. Space Force Family Attends First Warrior Games

Article
10/19/2022
Space Force captain with raised archery bow and arrow  shown in profile competing in her first Warrior Games.

U.S. Space Force Capt. Nichole "Nikki" Evenson competes in her first Warrior Games with the support of her family and the U.S. Air Force Wounded Warrior community.

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care | Mental Health: Seeking Care with TRICARE | Warrior Care – A Show of Strength

Horse Therapy Helps Wounded Service Members Find "New Normal"

Article
9/13/2022
Horse on left with ARNG Spc. Yesenia Flores, at an equine therapy program used by Fort Campbell's Soldier Recovery Unit.

Horse therapy is one way Fort Campbell wounded soldiers move toward recovery.

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care

Unexpected Friendly Rivals

Article
8/24/2022
A woman helps a person lifting weights

The Brooke Army Medical Center Soldier Recovery Unit is more than where support for wounded, ill, and injured soldiers receiving rehabilitative care takes place.

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care

Wounded Warrior Reconditioning Paves Way to Invictus Victory and More

Article
7/29/2022
An athlete rower

New veteran reflects on his experience at the last Invictus Games as a recovering service member and how DOD adaptive sports programs got him there and aided in recovery.

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care

From Recovery to Resilience: Navy Service Member Shares His Story

Article
7/22/2022
Two people with a shotput

Navy RSM shares how military adaptive sport programs helped him during his recovery from cancer.

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care

Recovering Service Members Compete in National Rowing Championship

Article
3/4/2022
Recovering Service Members and Paralympic athletes take on National Indoor Row Championship.

Recovering Service Members compete in 2022 national indoor rowing championships.

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care

Air Force Invisible Wounds Initiative helps build a supportive culture

Article
2/4/2022
Invisible Wounds Initiative

Late last year, the Air Force launched Invisible Wounds Initiative Command Team Campaign

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care

Ft. Belvoir Leaders Learn to Row Learn More About MASP

Article
12/10/2021
Military personnel participating in adaptive sports

Fort Belvoir Soldier Recovery Unit Command team joins MASP for a rowing clinic in Washington D.C. to experience benefits of adaptive sports firsthand.

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care

Meet the Matriarch of Wounded Warrior Caregivers at Walter Reed

Article
11/30/2021
Service members transporting a severely wounded soldier

For worried caregivers at Walter Reed Bethesda, Linda Rasnake is a positive force of nature.

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care

Caregiver Wife’s Support Instrumental to Wounded Warrior’s Recovery

Article
11/30/2021
Retired Air Force Tech Sgt. Eric Heldman staying active

Eric and Crystal Heideman are not just husband and wife, but life partners navigating life as a wounded warrior and his full-time caregiver with resilience, will, and above all, love for one another.

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care

Mental Stress is like a ‘Check Engine Light’ Flashing–Don’t Ignore It

Article
11/29/2021
Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Jason David talks about his  journey of recovery through the Air Force Wounded Warrior Program during a video conversation with Defense Health Agency Command Sgt. Major Michael Gragg.

Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Jason David speaks about his own journey of recovery through the Air Force Wounded Warrior Program.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Warrior Care | Warrior Care – A Show of Strength | Psychological Fitness

Wounded Warriors and Caregivers Online Resources

Article
11/29/2021
Airmen race for a loose ball during an Air Force Wounded Warrior basketball game

The Defense Department programs listed here are staffed with nearly 800 recovery care coordinators and case managers who are standing by to respond to individual queries.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness & Combat Support | Warrior Care

For Many Wounded Warriors, Not All Damage is Visible or Combat-Related

Article
11/23/2021
A picture of Alex and Allison Pate

For Air Force Staff Sgt. Alex Pate’s wife, Allison, being a caregiver to a wounded warrior has been a series of emotions, but she’s grateful for the support they’ve received along the road to his recovery.

Recommended Content:

Warrior Care
<< < 1 2 > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 2
Refine your search
Last Updated: July 08, 2022
Follow us on Instagram Follow us on LinkedIn Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on YouTube Sign up on GovDelivery