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Socom Athlete Enjoys Camaraderie of DoD Warrior Games

WEST POINT, N.Y., June 21, 2016 — For U.S. Special Operations Command team member Army Staff Sgt. Mark Shrewsbury, competing in his first Department of Defense Warrior Games at the U.S. Military Academy here has been about more than just the medals. It was about camaraderie and experiencing a sense of family.

“Since I’ve been with Socom this past year, they’ve treated me like family, and I found out you don’t have to be a special operator,” the public affairs specialist said. “You can be support. You can be anyone within the special operations arena, and they’re going to treat you like family.”

Overcoming Injury

Shrewsbury, who will retire from the Army in December after 20 years of service, said he joined the military to see the world. He said his favorite experience in his career was participating in a 2013 airborne operation into Australia and spending two weeks in the Outback.

In June 2014, he was diagnosed with a stage 4 metastatic malignant melanoma, otherwise known as skin cancer. Last year, it metastasized in his brain, but he is in remission after surgery.

He said he learned about adaptive sports from his Care Coalition representative and was invited to the trials. Shrewsbury said he was hesitant at first, because he saw that others had missing limbs from combat missions.

“I’m in remission, so I was hesitant to do this, but they welcomed me in,” he said. “The other teammates, they explained to me [that] whether you have an illness, injury or whatever, you’re part of Socom. You’re part of the team.”

DoD Warrior Games

Shrewsbury competed in recumbent cycling, swimming, sitting volleyball and compound archery, and finished fourth in the recumbent cycling. He said he had fun even though he didn’t earn a medal.

“I had a good time,” he said. “The course was great here. The hills were really a test. I trained for it, and it was really exciting to do the real thing.”

Shrewsbury said he especially enjoyed the fellowship shown by the athletes. “Every time we go to an event, we go around and wish each other good luck and everything, because it’s not about the winning. It’s about getting together and having the competition,” he said.

Wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans should try out for adaptive sports, Shrewsbury said. “You’ll never know how much better it makes you feel to get back in the game, [rather than] staying at home, to actually participate in something like this. Whether you win or not is irrelevant. You’re part of the team, and they’ll cheer you on for finishing, because you were strong enough to come out and do it. You just have to find that strength within yourself.”

Distribution channels: Military