‘It’s like coming back home’: Athletes training for 2019 Warrior Games healing physically, mentally

Veterans and active Canadian Armed Forces members train at CFB Esquimalt March 25 to 29

At one time, Trevor Vautour wasn’t able to walk.

Now, the former Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) master corporal is training at CFB Esquimalt to compete in rowing, team rugby and team basketball at the 2019 Warrior Games in Tampa Bay, Fla. this June.

The games are designed to enhance the physical and mental healing of injured or ill veterans or active military service members from around the world.

Hosted by the U.S. Department of Defense, this is only the second year Canada is participating, joining approximately 300 other soldiers to compete head to head in 14 sports including archery, cycling, time-trial cycling, shooting, sitting volleyball, swimming, track and field, wheelchair basketball, indoor rowing, power lifting, golf, wheelchair tennis and wheelchair rugby.

This week, from March 25-29, the 40-athlete Canadian team, comprised of current and former CAF members from across Canada, are training at CFB Esquimalt.

It took two years for Vautour to heal physically from the accumulative back injuries and gunshot wounds that had ended his military career serving in special operations.

But the emotional healing took longer, and moving away from his CAF family made it even more difficult.

That’s why Vautour jumped at the opportunity to become part of Team Canada.

“It’s motivated me to get competitive and just to get out of the house again,” he said. “Something that, prior to this, was a big issue for me.”

Vautour’s internal “fire” was damaged after the end of his military career. He said joining the team is reigniting that fire for him.

“I hope to put this not only [towards] my perseverance for the physical side but also for getting out there into the jobs field and being active in a different capacity,” he said.

Trevor Vautour has been on a long and ongoing journey of healing for physical and mental injuries he sustained while a member of the Canadian Armed Forces. He says joining Team Canada and training for the 2019 Warrior Games has been an incredible bonding and healing experience for himself and other athletes. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

But Vautour said most of the healing comes from the community of athletes, and if you didn’t know, you might think the rowers, power lifters and shooters training at CFB Esquimalt had been friends for years.

But they only met this week.

“We all understand what it is we’ve gone through. The injuries we have, some of them you can visually see…some of them you can’t. Everyone gets that,” Vautour said, adding that within 24 hours of meeting there was laughing and joking amongst the athletes.

“We’ve created and established a family here.”

Daryl Sagar, a former CAF medic who’s training for the shooting competition, said meeting the other athletes was like “coming back home.”

“You’re with people that understand. You don’t have to explain yourself, you can let your guard down, you can be safe,” he said. “We always walk around with this bubble around us to protect us, because people don’t really understand…It’s like coming back to a family that I’ve missed and haven’t been around for years.”

CAF member Laura Livesey took a break from practising pistol shooting to say she’s excited for what’s to come in Tampa Bay.

“I like the idea that it’s not about winning medals, it’s about doing our best and I think we can say that that is what Canada is all about.”

Laura Livesey shoots a pistol at the Team Canada training camp for the upcoming 2019 Warrior Games in Florida. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

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