The George W. Bush Presidential Center has vowed to help transition American veterans from military service to civilian life, and its latest effort takes veterans from hospitals to basketball courts, tennis courts and weight lifting arenas.
Former President Bush was named honorary chairman of the 2016 Invictus Games in a press conference Monday afternoon.
“I’m fired up about the Invictus games,” Bush told the crowd of veterans and family members.
The Invictus Games is an international adaptive sporting event for wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans. It will take place at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at WALT DISNEY WORLD® from May 8-12.
Prince Harry created the Invictus Games in 2014 after a visit to the 2013 Warrior Games. He decided to host the inaugural Invictus Games in London to harness the power of sports to help servicemen and women rehabilitate from their time in the military. Invictus means “unconquerable” in Latin.
“The flag came from Prince Harry, and with it comes the responsibility for hosting the games,” Bush said.
Prince Harry and Bush will be hosting an Invictus Games Policy Symposium during the Games. They will address the invisible wounds of war: post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury and other psychological health conditions.
“We intend to use the platform of the Invictus Games to call our nation to more work and better work, so this group of men and women can contribute mightily to our country,” Bush said.
Veterans Juan Soto (wheelchair basketball), Jaime Garza (shot-put, discus and powerlifting) and Chance Field (wheelchair tennis) will be competing in the games.
“When you don’t leave the military on your own terms, stuff like the Invictus Games gives feels good, and there’s a lot of motivation in that,” Field said.
Specialist and Arlington resident Juan Soto, who served stateside, participated in the 2014 Invictus Games wheelchair basketball.
The Colony resident and HM3 (FMF) Jaime Garza said training for the games gives him a goal to work toward.
“It’s very motivational. It helps me get through the day,” Garza said. “Sometimes you feel useless, so it’s good to find something to keep you busy.”