Weekly Columns

Tech. Sgt. Jason Caswell, a 19th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief at the Little Rock Air Force Base, has always had a competitive nature. He was passionate about rugby and set his sights on becoming a member of the Air Force rugby team with the ultimate goal of playing on the USA rugby team. An accident on the field took him out of the game with a severe broken leg. Unfortunately, it never healed properly. After years of pain and surgery, Caswell made a life changing decision to have his leg amputated. That hasn’t stopped his love for playing sports.

Tech. Sgt. Caswell is one of more than 250 service members participating in the Warrior Games at the Quantico, Virginia Marine Corps Base. This athletic event features eight sporting events with athletes from all branches of our Armed Forces who have physical and mental injuries – many from their service in combat zones.

I was pleased to have the opportunity to meet with Tech. Sgt. Caswell and his family during their visit to the Capitol during the games. I appreciate his dedicated service to our country and his drive to maximize his ability and inspire other wounded warriors.

The Department of Defense (DoD), Department of Veterans Affairs and Congress are implementing initiatives that help our wounded warriors in their difficult transitions, either back to service or into civilian life.

A 2011 study published in the Therapeutic Recreation Journal examined the impact veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom who participated in a therapeutic adaptive sports and recreation program. The study found positive changes in quality of life, mood and sport related competence.

Athletics plays an important role in recovery of our troops. Physical activity offers injured members of our Armed Forces and veterans opportunities for rehabilitation both physically and mentally. That’s why I helped reauthorize the Veterans Paralymics Act of 2013. This legislation extended the U.S. Paralymic Integrated Adaptive Sports Program through 2018. This provides the opportunity to partner with local organizations to develop programs and skills that meet the needs of our injured troops. 

This program provides thousands of veterans an opportunity to participate in adaptive sports programs. I am proud to continue supporting this program so more veterans and service members can have access to this beneficial initiative.

A similar program is in place at DoD. The Military Adaptive Sports Program was created in 2011. Since then, it’s helped more than 158,000 service members. 

The men and women who served our nation in uniform deserve the care and attention they need to face the challenges they experience. I’m proud of the work and programs that exist to help our troops and veterans. There is still more we can do but we have seen great progress and we can build on this momentum. 

As we celebrate Independence Day, let’s reflect on the service and sacrifice of all of the men and women who have been called to stand in defense of our country and commit ourselves to making sure they get the care they earned.