Being a military spouse usually requires some level of cheerleading through the peaks and valley’s of military life. Whether it’s a well-deserved promotion or an incredibly tough deployment, spouses are known to champion their service member through hard fights and earned victories.
But there is no bigger group of cheerleaders than the spouses of Wounded Warriors and no better venue to celebrate these warriors than the Department of Defense (DOD) Warrior Games.
The 2019 DOD Warrior Games was held in Tampa, Florida this June. Veteran athlete teams from every branch of service and international teams ascended on the city for a full week of fierce competition. Sponsored by U.S Special Operational Command (SOCOM), Warrior Games were hosted nearly 300 athlete warriors in 13 sports over ten days. Teams included Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and SOCOM. International teams included United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Netherlands and Danish Defense Commands. Teams include active duty military service members and veterans with upper-body, lower-body, and spinal cord injuries: traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress.
It would be hard to find a more committed cheerleader for the athletes competing this year than Air Force spouse, Justin Goad. His wife, Lisa, is one of the super athletes competing in four highly competitive sports: Cycling, field, swimming and track. Spectators at the games can spot Justin from afar with his giant blue Air Force flag and outfitted in all things blue, including spikey blue hair! He rallies onlookers into becoming wildly enthusiastic fans while cheering on athletes.
“The games are an incredible experience. There is nothing like this. I cheer on all the athletes of every branch and country in every sport. It’s a huge accomplishment to make these teams,” says Justin. This is his second time attending the games with his wife. Lisa Goad is a retired Air Force Master Sgt. who served 21years in Special Forces.
When asked what the games mean to him, he replied, “There is nothing better than showcasing the power and resiliency these athletes have. When your loved one is told they can no longer serve because they can’t pass the PT test due to injury, these games give service members a chance to prove they are still strong and capable of amazing physical acts. They can say, ‘I still got it; and compete at the top.”
Justin is not only a blue-hair, flag-waving cheerleading spouse, but he also has been an Air Force active duty service member for the last 14 years in Special Forces. His commitment to his wife, family, service and country is awe-inspiring. Even when his wife is not competing, spectators will find him on the sidelines of the Wheelchair Rugby or Shooting waiving a giant flag and building energy for the athletes. Justin is their biggest fan.
This year was his second year at the games and now understands the pace and scale of the events. It’s also been great opportunity to reconnect to fellow spouses and warrior families. Justin says he’s been fortunate to find support and friendship through a caregiver support program.
“I’ve met and have stayed close to several families. I work in law enforcement and so I come from a place of compassion. It’s easy to do when you meet these families. “
When asked if he had any parting words of advice for new spouses next year at the Warrior Games, he responded, “Enjoy the moment. Celebrate the accomplishments every chance you have…and Go AIR FORCE!”
The DOD Warrior Games were established in 2010 as a way to enhance the recovery and rehabilitation of wounded warriors and to expose them to adaptive sports. The U.S. Olympic Committee in Colorado Springs, Colorado were the first to sponsor the games in their inaugural year with 200 athletes. The Warriors Games have since grown in size and number of sports.
For more information about the DOD Warrior Games, visit www.dodwarriorgames.com