Navy Safe Harbor Helps Wounded Warriors
By Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Sally Foster
Defense Media Activity
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., May. 13, 2010 Three days into the inaugural Wounded Warrior Games at the U.S. Olympic Training Center here, it’s clear the games have really taken off for the Navy team.
The stands are crowded with spectators cheering for their family members or fellow servicemembers, but none so loud as those in blue and yellow. Team Navy’s fans stand out in the crowds, shaking pom-poms and jangling yellow cowbells distributed by Navy Safe Harbor in “Navy pride packs.”
But noisemakers are not the only way Navy Safe Harbor has contributed to the games. Safe Harbor is the Navy's lead organization for coordinating the nonmedical care of wounded, ill, and injured sailors, Coast Guardsmen and their families.
"We provide the sailors and Coast Guardsmen with assistance in navigating the bureaucracy,” said Lt. Courtney Pollman, Navy Safe Harbor's special-projects analyst. "We don't necessarily give them access to anything they aren't already entitled to, but we help them sort out what they're entitled to, what they need, what's in their best interests. … We help them establish goals, and we help get them there."
Navy Safe Harbor has played a major role in the inaugural Wounded Warrior games, starting with the first step. "We were basically the recruiting agency for the athletes for the Navy and the Coast Guard," Pollman said. "We brought a support staff of 15 people to support our athletes here by providing around-the-clock availability to a doctor, a physical therapist, a coach -- anything from running out and getting them last-minute stuff they didn't know they needed to getting them from Point A to Point B in time."
One of the Navy’s wounded warriors expressed gratitude for Navy Safe Harbor’s support. "They have pretty much organized, coordinated and done everything for the Navy warriors as well as their families and spouses," Stephanie Rose said. "They secured hotels and shuttle services for us, they flew us out here, and they've been ultimately really supportive ever since we've arrived."
Though the Navy team didn’t receive any of the first medals awarded at the games, spirits have not fallen on the courts or in the bleachers. Capt. Oakley Watkins, Navy Safe Harbor’s program director, said the Warrior Games are an outstanding opportunity for competitors to capitalize on and demonstrate their abilities rather than showcasing their disabilities.
"It's really motivating for them as individuals and the whole team to show that they have abilities and they can do things that even some people who are not injured can’t do,” Watkins said. “This really shows the team spirit, that competitiveness between the different services, and shares in that camaraderie that they have; that commonality of being injured. There's no difference between a wounded soldier or a wounded sailor."