The US Army Marksmanship Unit Paralympic Shooting Team is Expanding

By LTC Scott Wales, Guest Blogger
Editors Note: The expressed comments and views of guest bloggers do not reflect the views of WTC or the United States Army.
For many years, the face of the Army Paralympic shooting effort was SFC Josh Olson. Now, the Army Paralympic shooting team is authorized a dozen shooters to represent the United States in international competition and is in the final steps of adding two more shooters to the squad, with half a dozen more being vetted.
The two new additions to the team are SPC Shanan Lefeat, an arm amputee, and SPC Eric Trueblood, a below the knee amputee. Lefeat was transferred to the Fort Benning Warrior Transition Battalion (WTB) to train with the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) while Human Resources Command finishes reviewing a medical board’s recommendation that she continue on active duty (COAD). This is a necessary step, because all USAMU members are Soldiers first, competitors second.
Trueblood is a little further back in the recovery and paperwork process, but he is representative of many young Soldiers who learn about the opportunities available for continued service. When asked to describe Trublood’s reaction when he heard about the Paralympic shooting team, long-time USAMU member SFC Bill Keever said, , “His eyes just lit up when he realized there was a way he could remain a Soldier and continue to serve his country.”
Keever continued, “When I visit Walter Reed or the Center for the Intrepid at Brooke Army Medical Center, I explain to wounded Soldiers that they may no longer be on the battlefield, but the battle isn’t over. Their new battle can be against the competition on the shooting range.” For a young Soldier who has only seen an Army at war, where life has been a constant cycle of deploy and refit, deploy and refit, this is a revelation.
Keever noted, “When someone, anyone, lays down behind a rifle to competitively shoot, the focus required to do that task seems to block out any of the other issues they may be dealing with. Every Soldier comes to us with motivation and basic rifle marksmanship skills. We believe that with the coaching and other resources available at the USAMU we can take them as far as their talent will allow. It took three years for SFC Olson to reach world class level, but that entire time—and for years to come—he will represent the Army and the United States in a positive way.”
He summed up his recruiting efforts in this way, “I don’t hire people with disabilities. I hire people with ability. The USAMU is interested in people who are motivated and willing to train hard to represent their country as a world class athlete.”
The USAMU sends out representatives and training teams to work with wounded warriors on a regular basis. Those interested in competing at a high level in either the Paralympics or the upcoming Warrior Games in May are encouraged to make this known to their chain of command. More information on the USAMU is at www.usamu.com.

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