COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- The third annual Warrior Games began April 30, and go until May 5 at the Air Force Academy and Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Wounded, ill and injured servicemen and women from the Air Force, Army, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard will participate in the Warrior Games, which is hosted by the U.S. Olympic Committee's Paralympic Military Program.
The Warrior Games represent the latest addition to a cooperative effort between government and private organizations in emphasizing the role of athletics in the recovery of wounded, ill, and injured service members.
The Warrior Games help elevate abilities through athletic competition and events such as shooting, swimming, archery, sitting volleyball, cycling, track and field and wheelchair basketball.
In addition to winners in each event, there will be an "Ultimate Warrior" competition in a pentathlon format, and service team scoring for a rotating Chairman's Cup.
The goal of Warrior Games isn't necessarily to determine the best athletes, but rather to maximize wounded veterans' abilities, and to display true potential through competitive sports.
Many service members become involved with the games for many reasons. Senior Master Sgt. Mike Sanders, from Joint-Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, competes because it is important that he serves where he can and does what he can to help others along the way.
Sanders, who competed in 2010 and will again this year, said that it is important for all to come out and share the experience of Warrior Games.
"It is going to be life changing for them. People are going to see some wounded, ill and injured people -- not all of us are combat related -- but we all suffer, and because we suffer we have a brotherhood," said Sanders.
Sanders said that people may cry a little and feel overwhelmed with emotion, but it is important for them to experience empathy with the athletes.
"The [emotional] support helps to keep us going," he said.
Willie Jackson, returning coach of the Air Force wheelchair basketball team, loves working with everyone involved.
"It truly is an honor and a privilege to come out here every day and work with these people...it is also a chance for us to show off our skills," Jackson said.
Like Sanders, Jackson finds it important for people to watch and support their Airmen, Sailors, Soldiers, Marines and Coastguardsmen. He says that people should be ready for an experience of a lifetime.
"Spectators should expect great attitudes, great competition and they should be ready to expect the unbelievable," he said.
The Warrior Games is a joint effort of the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, U.S. Olympic Committee, with support provided by the United Services Organization, the Fisher House Foundation and the Bob Woodruff Foundation and Deloitte.