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Through Airmen's Eyes: Program puts Airman back in action

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. (AFNS) -- When the next Warrior Games take place in 2014, one Kirtland officer hopes to represent the Air Force on a team.

Maj. Andrew Green, who works in plans and programs at the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center, has recently become active with the Air Force Wounded Warrior program, working to find a sport he can compete in despite an injury that has restricted his mobility and prevented him from participating in most athletics.

In July, Green participated in an AFW2-sponsored adaptive sports camp, which allows wounded service members to try different sports and find one suitable to their needs and abilities.

"That first camp was very successful for me, not only in finding different sports I can actually do with my injury, but in connecting with other wounded warriors with similar injuries," Green said.

Green suffered a serious spinal injury from a mortar blast during a deployment to Iraq in 2004. Following numerous reconstructive surgeries, he was deemed fit for duty. In 2009, while deployed to Afghanistan, he reinjured his back from an improvised explosive device incident and had to go through another series of surgeries. He will medically retire from the Air Force in December, and said he is grateful for the opportunities Wounded Warriors is providing.

"The biggest part of the program is realizing just because you are wounded or injured, doesn't mean you have to have an inactive lifestyle," Green said. "It provides an opportunity to find something you enjoy doing and can athletically compete in."

The AFW2 program emphasizes ensuring wounded Airmen receive professional, individualized guidance and support to help them successfully transition out of the Air Force. Green said he resisted participating in the program, but says now it's been a great blessing.

"The people have all been wonderful," he said. "I don't think they get enough credit for what they do and how they change lives. When I discovered all the wonderful things the program has to offer, I reached out to other wounded warriors I know and encouraged them to participate."

He said the program has helped bring out the "fighting spirit" in himself, and he's seen it in others as well.

"I don't think any of our Airmen quit, and I saw that when I was at the adaptive sports camp," Green said. "Everyone there has a unique story, and their willingness to fight and not give up was just amazing."

In September, Green will go to Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, to compete for a spot on the Warrior Games team, most likely in recumbent bicycle, Olympic air pistol or Olympic air rifle.
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