USO Florida Celebrates and Supports Wounded Warriors and Their Families During 2024 DOD Warrior Games

Since 1941, the USO has been committed to strengthening the well-being of the people serving in America’s military and their families through every step of their military journey – including when service members have been injured in the line of duty.

And this year, at the 2024 Department of Defense (DOD) Warrior Games, the USO central Florida staff and volunteers did just that.

Supporting the thousands of service members who have been injured in the line of duty – both with visible and invisible wounds – is crucial. And many have found comfort in participating in the DOD Warrior Games as athletes.

The DOD Warrior Games showcase the resilient spirit of these athletes – all of whom have made sacrifices in service to our nation. Competing athletes come from all branches of the U.S. military, as well as from the nations of our allies and partners.

The athletes who compete in the Warrior Games are inspirational, demonstrating that they can overcome almost any obstacle and achieve greatness. Each year, they join the games to compete in adaptive sporting events such as wheelchair basketball, cycling, indoor rowing and wheelchair rugby, among others. According to the DOD Warrior Games, these competitions are designed to enhance the recovery and rehabilitation of wounded warriors, and build strength, endurance and camaraderie among participants.

Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Ray Boyington

The USO Central Florida team was honored to support this year’s DOD Warrior Games held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort on June 21-30, 2024.

“It was amazing being able to spend time with these incredible athletes and their families over the course of 10 days because we were able to make such personal connections and have a positive impact on all the athletes,” said Kimberly DeVries, the area operations manager of USO Central Florida. “This was such a unique experience, and I along with my fellow USO staff members and volunteers were honored to have the opportunity to support and help make the 2024 DOD Warrior Games a such a great success this year.”

The USO team arrived at the games a day prior to the opening ceremonies, where it supported over 500 competing military athletes, families and friends throughout the 10-day event. Setting up USO branded tents and tables at select locations, hundreds of athletes and their families took advantage of USO-provided healthy snacks, fresh fruit, a variety of Coca-Cola products including BODYARMOR and other refreshments, as well as yard games such as corn hole, a giant sized connect-four and Jinga set.

“This event would not have been well supported without the USO,” said the spouse of a participating Warrior Games athlete. “The USO is a lifesaver for children and elderly to sustain hydration/drinks and fruit, and your volunteers and staff were helpful, polite and absolute professionals.”

USO Supports Wounded Warriors Beyond the Games

The USO is committed to the resiliency and well-being of our service members and their families. Beyond the excitement of the DOD Warrior Games, the USO also supports injured, ill and wounded service members at our USO Warrior Centers and USO Warrior and Family Centers.

Recovery from these wounds or illnesses can be a long and difficult journey for any service member, made even more difficult by being far from home. However, at USO Warrior and Family Centers – often located just a short distance from major military medical centers – service members can find a sense of home and comfort while they recuperate – and that can make all the difference.

USO Warrior and Family Centers are ADA-compliant, ensuring that all – regardless of their recovery journey – can access the building. This intentional design means that everything, from the programs offered to the structure of the building itself, is offered with the intention of catering to wounded service members and their caretakers, making these USO centers truly unique.

The programs, services and amenities offered within the welcoming space of these centers are all created to provide this sense of home to recovering service members and other members of the military community. Amid the comfortable couches USO Warrior Centers also provide a fully-equipped kitchen, which service members, military family members and caretakers can use to cook homemade meals – a welcome break from hospital food. Additionally, there are always snacks and beverages available in the kitchen as well and, on many nights, USO staff cook up their own meals, or bring in popular food from local restaurants, to serve to these military community members.

Programs are created purposely to assist service members with their recovery, such as the center’s art and music rooms. In these specially-designed rooms, service members can partake in classes on painting, sculpting, drawing, crafting and more, providing them with a creative outlet to express themselves. An art class might seem simple at first glance, but studies show that art can be incredibly helpful in reducing stress and anxiety, and it has shown promising results particularly in supporting service members and veterans struggling with PTSD.

Recovering from serious wounds or illnesses can be an incredibly challenging experience that can take a physical and emotional toll on service members and their families. By providing them with a place to call home while they recuperate, USO Warrior and Family Centers help ensure that these troops have the resources they need to make a full recovery.

The USO was honored to support wounded service members and their families and caretakers at the 2024 DOD Warrior Games in Orlando, and we are honored to support them every day at our USO Warrior and Family Centers all around the world.

Thank you to Lockheed Martin, Hilton Grand Vacations and Coca-Cola Florida for supporting our USO mission delivery during this year’s 2024 DOD Warrior Games.

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