WEST POINT, N.Y., June 20, 2016 — Lance Cpl. David Shaw, a Royal Army veteran, earned a silver medal in the men’s recumbent cycling event June 19 during the 2016 Department of Defense Warrior Games at the U.S. Military Academy here.
Since June 15, about 250 wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans representing teams from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force, U.S. Special Operations Command and United Kingdom armed forces have competed in shooting, archery, cycling, track and field, swimming, sitting volleyball and wheelchair basketball. The games end tomorrow.
Shaw also earned a silver medal in the men’s shot put in his disability category June 16. He said he was excited to earn the medals.
“It felt absolutely amazing,” he said after the cycling competition. “I remember I had a voice in my head, and it was the sergeant major from my medical board who said, ‘Go home, put your feet up, because you’re finished.’ I could hear his voice on the steerage and as I crossed the finish line and won my medal. I thought, ‘No, I’m not.”
Shaw said he was so surprised he had earned the silver medal in his field event that he didn’t believe it at first. “I didn’t know whether to laugh, cry or disbelieve it,” he said. “I got in touch with my family back home. They’re all really proud. I’ve got messages on Facebook. I put a picture of the medal up last night, and when I looked this morning, there were 65 messages of congratulations. Everyone’s really proud.”
Shaw said he wanted to serve in the military since he was a child. He was injured in 1996 while serving with American forces in Sarajevo during combat operations. He damaged discs in his spine and neck and injured his shoulder.
After his injury, he worked with a local recovery center and then the nonprofit organization “Help for Heroes,” which gave him the chance to learn how to ride the recumbent cycle, play sitting volleyball and participate in field events such as the shot put.
He said he recommends events such as the DoD Warrior Games to any service members or veterans, whether they are in the United Kingdom of the United States. “Asking for help is a sign of strength, not a weakness, and you can still contribute to an environment like this. This is second to none,” Shaw said. “I really can’t put into words how good it is to be here. It’s just the ultimate experience.’
Shaw said the camaraderie among the British and U.S. services here has been great. “The Air Force, Marines, Socom, the Army, the Navy -- even on the bike ride this morning, passing each other on different parts of the course, we offered words of encouragement to each other,” he said. “We’re all from different branches and different nations, but at the end of the day, we’re all veterans, the majority of us. We all know what it’s like to serve. We’re all in this together -- one big family.”
Looking ahead, Shaw said, he’s going to train for the Invictus Games trials in February and shoot for the gold in his categories next year. He’s also hoping to pay it forward.
“Being in the darkness, through help and family, I’m now in a better place,” he said. “It’s like I’ve come back into the light. It’s given me the confidence to do the training for these sort of things to change my life around.Shaw said he’s training to be a counselor. “I’m now going to be in a better position to be able to say to veterans,” he added, “I’m living proof that once we’re injured, we’re not finished. We’ve got a lot to offer. The Warrior Games and Invictus, they give us that platform to show that we still have a lot to offer.”