Thursday, 23 May 2024

Sitting Volleyball Vets Share Their Inspiring Stories

On Veteran’s Day, let’s take a moment to honor the military veterans who not only served their country but also represented Team USA in sitting volleyball. Among the 267 athletes who competed in the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 30 were military veterans, six of whom were members of the U.S. Sitting Volleyball Teams.

USA Volleyball has a strong connection with the military, with seven athletes with military experience currently on its sitting national teams. On this special day, we want to highlight the incredible stories of six of these veterans, three of whom were injured while deployed overseas.

John Kremer – A Dream Job Cut Short

John Kremer, hailing from Buford, Georgia, grew up in a military family and followed in their footsteps by joining the Navy. He worked as an explosive ordnance device technician and was living his dream until tragedy struck in Afghanistan. In 2010, during his fourth deployment, Kremer stepped on a landmine and lost both of his legs below the knee.

But Kremer didn’t let his injuries define him. Within a year, he was walking and running on prosthetic legs, even skydiving. Joining the U.S. Men’s Sitting Volleyball Team allowed Kremer to represent his country once again, instilling pride as he wore the red, white, and blue on his chest.

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Kari Miller – Overcoming Adversity

Kari Miller, from Washington D.C., joined the Army after high school, following in her aunt’s footsteps. As a transportation management coordinator, she traveled to various countries, including Hungary, Korea, and Bosnia, where she was deployed for a time.

In 1999, tragedy struck when a drunk driver struck the car she was riding in, leading to the amputation of both her legs. Despite this setback, Miller’s determination drove her to remain active, taking up wheelchair basketball and eventually joining the U.S. Women’s Sitting Team in 2006. Miller continues to serve by working for the Paralympic Military Program and the Air Force’s Wounded, Ill, and Injured Program.

Stephen Bracken – Serving On and Off the Court

Stephen Bracken, born on a military base in Germany and currently serving in the Army through the World Class Athletes Program, has always had a deep connection to the military. While working as an aviation mechanic on Apache helicopters, he suffered severe injuries during a mixed martial arts training exercise, damaging ligaments and tendons in his left leg.

Bracken’s future with the Army may be uncertain, but his dedication to the U.S. Men’s Sitting Team remains unwavering. He believes that playing volleyball is a different way of serving his country, and the pride he feels on the court is second to none.

Dan Regan – Service as a Way of Life

Dan Regan, from St. Louis, Missouri, joined the Army National Guard because he believed in the importance of public service. Leaving the Guard in 2006, Regan joined the U.S. Men’s Sitting Team in 2007 after attending his first training camp.

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Regan emphasizes the sense of pride and accomplishment that comes with representing his country both in the military and on the volleyball court. Being part of something bigger than oneself is a powerful motivator for Regan.

James Stuck – From Army to the Volleyball Court

James Stuck, hailing from New Kensington, Pennsylvania, joined the Army as a way to pursue the opportunities he didn’t have growing up in a steel mill town. During his deployment to Iraq, a roadside bomb resulted in the loss of his right leg below the knee.

Stuck’s journey with the U.S. Men’s Sitting Team spans almost a decade, and he considers it an honor to represent his country in both the military and the Paralympics. Wearing the jersey is a privilege that Stuck cherishes deeply.

Josh Smith – Overcoming Adversity on and off the Battlefield

Josh Smith, from Mesquite, Texas, served in the Marine Corps for 10 years. In 2013, a shotgun accident resulted in the amputation of his right leg below the knee. Despite this setback, Smith’s determination led him to join the U.S. Men’s Sitting Team, making his first international roster in 2014.

Smith believes that serving in the military and playing a Paralympic sport are different ways of representing his country. Though his path took an unexpected turn, Smith continues to serve and inspire others through his dedication to sitting volleyball.

FAQs

Q: How many military veterans represented Team USA in sitting volleyball in the 2016 Paralympic Games?

A: Thirty military veterans represented Team USA in sitting volleyball at the 2016 Paralympic Games.

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Q: How many athletes with military experience are currently on USA Volleyball’s sitting national teams?

A: USA Volleyball currently has seven athletes with military experience on its sitting national teams.

Q: Can you provide an example of a military veteran who overcame significant challenges to compete in sitting volleyball?

A: One example is John Kremer, who lost both his legs below the knee in Afghanistan but defied the odds to walk, run, and represent the United States in sitting volleyball.

Q: What are some military programs that support sitting volleyball athletes?

A: The Paralympic Military Program, a partnership between the United States Olympic Committee and the U.S. Department of Defense, and the Air Force’s Wounded, Ill, and Injured Program are two military programs that support sitting volleyball athletes.

Summary

On this Veteran’s Day, let’s honor the military veterans who have found solace and pride in representing their country through sitting volleyball. The stories of John Kremer, Kari Miller, Stephen Bracken, Dan Regan, James Stuck, and Josh Smith remind us of the resilience, determination, and camaraderie that define these athletes. Through their sacrifices and achievements, they inspire us all. Join us in celebrating their journey and supporting them as they continue to reach new heights on and off the court.

To learn more about the inspiring journeys of these veterans, please visit Alpinetgheep.