Wounded Warriors Participate in Athletic Clinic

Port Hueneme, Calif. -- Eight Navy wounded warrior athletes participated in an adaptive athletic reconditioning clinic at Naval Base Ventura County, Port Hueneme July 13-15, 2012.

The camp was sponsored by Navy Safe Harbor - the Navy and Coast Guard's wounded warrior support program - and provided athletes training in track and field events, swimming, and wheelchair basketball.

It marked the first adaptive athletic reconditioning clinic for three athletes, retired Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Zachary Crites of Bealeton, Va.; retired Electronics Technician 2nd Class Aaron Matthews of Fond du Lac, Wisc.; and retired Aviation Maintenance Administrationman 3rd Class Stanley Valbrun of Hampton, Va.

Valbrun, who was shot in 2009 during liberty in Norfolk, Va. and sustained paralysis in his left arm, was introduced to competitive swimming for the first time.

"I never thought about swimming competitively," said Valbrun. "The [clinic] was intense and tiring, but it gave me an opportunity to see what I could do, and I look forward to going home and continue training."

Returning athletes included 2012 Warrior Games bronze medal winner (team archery) retired Electrician's Mate 2nd Class Joshua Rosenberg; 2012 Team Navy/Coast Guard members retired Aviation Boatswain's Mate Aircraft Handler 1st Class Rodolfo Garcia, retired Aviation Machinist's Mate 2nd Class Brandon Griffith, and retired Navy Aviation Boatswain's Mate 2nd Class Steve Miller; and retired Master-at-Arms Seaman Steve Hancock.

On July 15, community supporters offered the athletes opportunities to participate in water sports. In the morning, local nonprofit organization Disabled Adventurers provided the wounded warriors adaptive kayaks to enjoy in the Channel Islands Harbor.

In the afternoon, the Anacapa Yacht Club provided 17 sailboats and crews to take the athletes, support staff, and coaches - along with other disabled veterans - sailing off the California coast.

Yacht Club Commodore Bill Brayton thanked the wounded warriors for participating in the sail day and for their service. "I get to do what I love because of you. Today, we wanted to let you enjoy what we love, too," he told the athletes.

Navy Safe Harbor supports more than 1,770 seriously wounded, ill, and injured Sailors and Coast Guardsmen, as well as their families. The program is a key component of the Department of the Navy's 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative, which is designed to maximize Sailor and Marine personal readiness, build resiliency, and hone the most combat-effective force.

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