The final stage in healing

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Tiffany DeNault
For some, the Warrior Games might be the first step toward healing, but for Air Force athlete Steven Malits the games are the last step in his long journey of recovery.

“If I can do this then I proved to myself I can do anything,” Malits says.

Malits enlisted into the Air Force in December 2005, as a pavements and heavy equipment engineer. During his second deployment, Malits was in a convoy when his truck ran over an improvised explosive device.

In the Warrior Games, Malits participates in sitting volleyball, swimming, and track and field. The games are a Paralympic-style event which also includes archery, cycling, wheelchair basketball, and shooting. The competitive nature of the games promotes and strengthens resiliency that also applies to their daily lives.

Even with the athletes’ injuries, the games are not easy. They are there to renew their experience of support and camaraderie within team environments, along with encouraging participation in physical and cognitive activities. This inspires physical fitness and new opportunities for growth and achievement.

“It’s awesome we have that camaraderie still, even though we are out there to win medals,” Malits said. “It’s definitely a benefit of having a military event and coming out here to support our branch. It’s great.”

Not only are the games for the athletes’ growth but to also raise awareness of the event and programs available to all wounded, ill, and injured service members and veterans.

“You have to get up, no doubt about it, and take it day by day,” Malits advises current and future athletes. “You have to keep trying, get back up every time you fall.”