Wounded Warriors Try Recreational Therapy

Published On: May 26 2010 09:03:58 PM HST   Updated On: May 27 2010 06:26:21 AM HST

The Kaneohe Marine Corps Wounded Warriors Regiment is only three years old, but it is seeing success with the emphasis on recreational therapy.

?You never know, one or two of them may really take to outrigger canoeing, cycling, or swimming, and it can be a life changing experience,? said Lt. Colonel Gregory Pryce.

For the first time the marines are fielding an outrigger canoe team to compete in the Wounded Warrior games against other military branches. Their first practice took place at Ala Moana Beach Park earlier this month.

Lance Cpl. Joshua Garcia,26, is learning how to paddle a canoe for the first time.

The former Colorado resident was injured in Iraq in 2004 when the vehicle he was in hit a land mine. He suffered serious injuries to his back, shoulder, knee and hips and is still facing the prospect of two, maybe three more operations.

His six-year recovery has not been easy but he can?t say enough about the support from Wounded Warriors staff and his fellow Marines.

?Here in Wounded Warriors, everybody has been through some kind of experience and it's easier to get along and not feel out of place," Garcia said.

On Tuesday, Garcia was in the Kaneohe Marine base gym playing wheelchair basketball. It is a tough workout designed to help build fitness and competitive drive.

Garcia said Warrior Warriors has been the best thing that has happened to him during his military time in Hawaii. He said he struggled with his pride in accepting help that he now admits he needs.

?It's either be proud, unhappy, and hurting for the rest of your life, or do something about it,? said Garcia.

The Kaneohe resident said he is learning to deal with post traumatic stress.

?It pretty much comes and goes. There are months or a year or two at a time I am fine, and then out of nowhere something will happen and remind you of stuff that you don?t want to think about or talk about it," said Garcia.

And he said he is still trying to deal with the guilt.

?I'm not talking about Iraq and what happened there. It's when you come back. I was married. I am now divorced. I have a son who is going to be 4 in October and I have not seen my son in months now," he said.

Something happened between the canoe paddling and Tuesday?s session of wheelchair basketball. A Wounded Warriors fishing trip to Montana just may have been the trick. Garcia broke into a wide grin, admitting he has discovered a passion for fly fishing.

?After going on this trip, I think I'll never stop,? Garcia said.

There may be more operations ahead for this Marine, but somehow fly fishing could be the thing that helps with a speedy recovery.


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