Army Veteran, Paralympian Encourages Wounded Warriors
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service
LONDON, Aug. 31, 2012 The 2012 U.S. Women's Sitting Volleyball Paralympic team has started its journey to earn a gold medal in the 2012 Paralympic Games here.
Kari Miller, center, blue uniform, a former Army sergeant, and current member of the 2012 U.S. Women’s Sitting Volleyball Paralympics team, sets the volleyball so a teammate can prepare for a spike during a non-medal match against China at the ExCel Centre in London, Aug. 31, 2012. DOD photo by U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Kari Miller, a retired U.S. Army sergeant and member of the 2012 U.S. Paralympic volleyballers, recently met with wounded warriors from the Heidelberg, Germany-based Warrior Transition Battalion and offered encouragement and words of wisdom to the soldiers.
“Well, basically I just told them that there are options for them to get out and get into sports,” she said. “The thing about rehab is it helps get right back into life. You sit back and you talk to doctors about prosthetics or whatever.”
“They don't wear prosthetics,” Miller said of the WTU soldiers. “They can only go by what they see other people do. But you get out in the sports world and you're talking to somebody like, 'Hey man, my prosthetic is cutting into [me], what should I do?'”
“You have to be able to be comfortable in playing,” she added.
Miller explained her line of reasoning as she talked to the wounded warriors.
“A lot of times you get injured and you're in the WTU or whatever, and you're not doing your normal job,” she said. “You could be sitting around at that time mad at life.
“But when you get out and get a chance to play and get that anxiety out, you don't begrudge all the small things,” Miller continued. “And you rehab a lot quicker, so those are the things that I like to share about getting into sports and getting well.”
The paralympian also reminded the soldiers that because they may have been wounded or have injuries, it isn't the end of their lives.
“Once someone tells you, your life -- it's not over and done,” she said. “There's an option. Whether you choose to take it or not, that's up to them.”
Miller also talked about competing in the Paralympic Games and the feelings that go along with performing at the highest level.
“This is crazy. The U.S. has only had a sitting volleyball team like three times,” she said. “So this is our third time. The first time when they came out they got a bronze [medal]. I wasn't there; maybe that's the reason.
“The second time we got a silver, and now we're working toward the gold, of course,” Miller added. “It's just awesome to be able to get out, especially in this venue where there's so much support from Great Britain.”
Miller noted the support she and her teammates have received in London is “awesome.”
“We've been in the [training] process for four years,” she said. “We end up getting a new coach … who's running a lot of new aspects of the game for us [like] strategy.”
New personnel, Miller said, have elevated the team’s play.
The former Army sergeant explained that the nucleus of the volleyball team trains in Central Oklahoma, while the other players travel there during training camps to practice with the team, building cohesion.
Miller said she is extremely excited to take the floor during the Paralympic Games to compete for a gold medal, which would be a first for the team.
“I'm just really excited, like 'Oh my God, I can't wait,'” she said. “I'm thinking, 'Let me touch the ball.' I'm ready.”