They’ve Earned It: Members of the Navy Reserve Represent Team Navy at the DOD Warrior Games

25 Oct 2018

They’ve Earned It
Members of the Navy Reserve Represent Team Navy at the DOD Warrior Games

Published Sept. 6, 2018 in The Navy Reservist (TNR), Volume 18 Issue 3
Lt. Cmdr. Jennifer Womble, Navy Reserve, Commander Navy Installations Command  

Chief Hospital Corpsman Tommy Chase and Senior Chief Hospital Corpsman Joe Paterniti were two competitors on Team Navy at the 2018 DoD Warrior Games and the only two Reservists on the team of 40.

Chase and Paterniti joined more than 250 seriously wounded, ill, and injured service members and veterans from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force, Special Operations Command, Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom for eight days of Paralympic-style competition at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. 

During the competition, Chase competed in track, field, swimming, archery, and shooting while Paterniti competed in field, cycling, powerlifting, and rowing. 

“Every member of the Reserve Component makes sacrifices in our personal lives and civilian careers to serve our Nation,” said Rear Adm. Matt O’Keefe, Reserve Deputy Commander Navy Installations Command. “When citizen-Sailors such as Joe Paterniti and Tommy Chase go above-and-beyond in their service, it is gravely important that we take care of them and their families when they return from mobilizations. I was profoundly proud and encouraged to witness first-hand the support provided by the Navy Wounded Warrior program to Tommy and Joe. They answered the call. They earned it. And the Wounded Warrior program delivered.”

Chase joined the Navy in 1991 and served for one enlistment before leaving to pursue his civilian career. In 2004, he joined the Navy Reserve again and deployed with 4th Tanks Scout Platoon to Fallujah, Iraq in October 2006. It was during this deployment that Chase was injured. In 2007 he enrolled in Navy Wounded Warrior, Safe Harbor and began his recovery both physically and mentally.

According to Chase, participating in the Warrior Games is “one more piece of my total recovery. It’s a huge honor, as a retiree whose career was cut short because of wounds suffered in combat, to be able to compete as an Athlete for the Navy I love dearly.”

Pride of service was a theme among the athletes and the healing of camaraderie in sports and service was a constant theme. Paterniti is a Reservist at the Volunteer Training Unit at Navy Operational Support Center Everett, Wash. who has served on active duty five times since he joined the Navy in 1983, one being a deployment to Iraq with the Marine Corps. 

“I have always found sports and physical activity very healing on their own,” said Paterniti. “Meeting other people who have service related injuries and ailments is priceless. Being on the team with these people is my favorite part. I love them as my family.” 

Chase and Paterniti were selected for team Navy after the competitive Wounded Warrior Trials in February at Naval Station Mayport in Mayport, Florida. Team Navy includes service members and veterans with upper-body, lower-body, and spinal cord injuries; traumatic brain injuries; visual impairment; serious illnesses; and post-traumatic stress. 

These games provide an opportunity for athletes to grow physically, mentally, and spiritually from the sportsmanship and camaraderie gained by representing their respective service teams in a friendly and spirited competition. It is an opportunity for athletes to showcase their enduring warrior spirit in the presence of their families and grateful nation.

“Our Navy Wounded Warrior athletes have shown incredible resiliency in their personal roads to recovery through CNIC’s adaptive sports program. The actions of these athletes demonstrate the Navy’s core attributes of integrity, accountability, initiative, and toughness,” said Vice Adm. Mary Jackson, commander, Navy Installations Command. The Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) has said that we will remain the world’s finest Navy only if we fight each and every minute to get better, there is no better example of this performance than what our Sailors and Coastguardsmen in the Navy Wounded Warrior Program do each and every day.”

The Navy honors the sacrifices of wounded warriors from the Navy and Coast Guard by providing them top-notch non-medical support through NWW – Safe Harbor. All enrollees in NWW are encouraged to make athletics a key component of their recovery efforts. By promoting wounded warrior participation in competitions like the DoD Warrior Games, NWW helps enrollees heal through adaptive sports. 

Learn more about the Warrior Games at: