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Warrior Profile: Lt. Col. Audra Lyons

LtCol Audra Lyons at the 2018 Wounded Warrior Games.

Lt. Col. Audra Lyons, Wounded Warrior Games Air Force team member, competes in the Department of Defense cycling competition at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo., June 6, 2018. Each of the Air Force’s 39 participating athletes will compete in one or more of 11 sports including archery, cycling, shooting, sitting volleyball, swimming, track and field, wheelchair basketball, indoor rowing, powerlifting and time-trial cycling. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Rusty Frank)

LtCol Audra Lyons at the 2018 Wounded Warrior Games.

Lt. Col. Audra Lyons, Wounded Warrior Games Air Force team member, receives a medal from Brig. Gen. Kathleen Cook, Director of Air Force Services, during a Department of Defense Warrior Games medal ceremony at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo., June 6, 2018. Service members and veterans competing in the Games have upper-body, lower-body, and spinal cord injuries; traumatic brain injuries; visual impairment; serious illnesses; and post-traumatic stress. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Rusty Frank)

LtCol Audra Lyons at the 2018 Wounded Warrior Games.

Lt. Col. Audra Lyons, Wounded Warrior Games Air Force team member, celebrates winning the gold medal during a Department of Defense Warrior Games medal ceremony at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo., June 6, 2018. Each of the Air Force’s 39 participating athletes will compete in one or more of 11 sports including archery, cycling, shooting, sitting volleyball, swimming, track and field, wheelchair basketball, indoor rowing, powerlifting and time-trial cycling. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Rusty Frank)

LtCol Audra Lyons at the 2018 Wounded Warrior Games.

Lt. Col. Audra Lyons, Wounded Warrior Games Air Force team member, competes in the Department of Defense Warrior Games shooting preliminary competition at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo., June 4, 2018. There are 39 athletes representing Team Air Force at the games, competing against wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans representing the U.S. Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Special Operations Command, as well as athletes from the U.K. Armed Forces, Australian Defence Force and Canadian Armed Forces. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Rusty Frank)

LtCol Audra Lyons at the 2018 Wounded Warrior Games.

Lt. Col. Audra Lyons, Wounded Warrior Games Air Force team member, hugs her husband, Frank Lyons, after a Department of Defense Warrior Games medal ceremony at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo., June 4, 2018. Service members and veterans competing in the games have upper-body, lower-body and spinal cord injuries; traumatic brain injuries; visual impairment; serious illnesses and post-traumatic stress. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Rusty Frank)

LtCol Audra Lyons at the 2018 Wounded Warrior Games.

Lt. Col. Audra Lyons, Wounded Warrior Games Air Force team member, talks to a coach during the Department of Defense Warrior Games shooting preliminary competition at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo., June 4, 2018. Service members and veterans competing in the games have upper-body, lower-body and spinal cord injuries; traumatic brain injuries; visual impairment; serious illnesses and post-traumatic stress. Each of the Air Force’s 39 participating athletes will compete in one or more of 11 sports including archery, cycling, shooting, sitting volleyball, swimming, track and field, wheelchair basketball, indoor rowing, powerlifting and time-trial cycling. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Rusty Frank)

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo., (AFNS) -- Lt. Col. Audra Lyons, Headquarters Air Force branch chief of policy integration, joined the Air Force June 26, 1997. She attended the Air Force Academy, graduated in 2001, and got married the next day.
 
“I joined the Air Force because of the educational opportunities that it could provide me,” said Lyons. “I did not think that I would stay in the Air Force longer than my five-year commitment, but after just a couple months, I loved the travel, teamwork, sense of purpose and camaraderie so much that I could not imagine leaving.”
 
Lyons joined the Air Force Wounded Warrior Program in the fall of 2017, after being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, fibromyalgia, Morton’s neuroma and complex regional pain syndrome. Lyons said she has the same sense of family with her teammates as she has experienced as a member of the Air Force. Through her injuries she has found a way to relate with her Airmen, Lyons added.
 
“My injuries have made me better able to empathize with others going through medical challenges themselves,” said Lyons. “I’ve had troops struggle, especially with PTSD, and when I talk to them I preface the conversation with my experience, and [they seem] much more open to sharing.”
 
Airmen enrolled in the Air Force Wounded Warrior program begin their path to the Warrior Games by participating in Warrior CARE events throughout the country, then competing and qualifying at the Air Force Trials. They work with expert coaches, sports trainers and nutritionists to not only prepare for competition, but enhance their recovery.
 
This year marks Lyon’s first time competing in the Games. 
 
Why do you compete?
I compete because I, like others, had officemates killed in Iraq. I hope the way I live my life honors their sacrifice. When I was first diagnosed with the nerve disorder (CRPS) in my foot and leg, it didn’t look like I would walk ever again. Since then I’ve run in somewhere around 50 half marathons. I do all I can, because I am capable.
 
What is your motivation or drive to compete every day? And why?
I would definitely say my husband. My husband’s support has been everything to me. He has been there with me through the thick and thin. I don’t think I would be here today if it wasn’t for him. I know I would not be able to still be in the Air Force if it wasn’t for him. Because there were so many times where that I would have just called it quits and said, “I just can’t physically handle this anymore,” and then he knew I was always tougher than that mentally and physically. He was the one who was always there to encourage me.
 
What have your experiences with AFW2 been?
My experiences and interactions with AFW2 have been more real to me than any other interactions I’ve had in my entire life. I’ve been on some pretty incredible teams in my life.
 
What do you hope to get out of the Warrior Games aside from competing and winning?
The Warrior Games have given me a renewed sense of who I am, and confidence in all I am capable of; it’s reminded me of the power of sharing challenges with others. So, for me, I already entered the games successful. For me life isn’t about that end point, it’s about the journey. The medals don’t mean much to me, earning a medal is about who shows up that day. There are so many worthy people who are out there with similar injuries, that aren’t able to be here during this event. (The Games are) about respecting them, respecting all of the Airmen who have served, and reflecting on the sacrifices that have been made.