Jessica: That is right. Better medical care and protective equipment out on the battlefield means that fewer U.S. troops are dying from their injuries. But it also means that an increasing number of war veterans are coming back with severe wounds, meaning they have lost one or two limbs. But as you are about to see, many are adapting to a new way of life by going back to doing what they love.
Dave Van Sleet: Half these guys are Army, the other half are Marines. And the minute they met, they’re best friends now.
Jessica: Dave Van Sleet is the Wounded Warriors coach and creator. He has spent thirty-two years working at hospitals for war veterans, fitting prosthetic limbs, or artificial limbs, on wounded soldiers.
Dave: When I saw what was coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan, these young guys in the shape they’re in, they need to get back into sports. That’s what they were doing before and that’s what they need to get back to now.
Matt Kinsey: We are America’s new favorite team.
Jessica: Shortstop Matt Kinsey was a sergeant with the 82nd Airborne in Afghanistan. He lost his foot last year when he stepped on a land mine.
Matt Kinsey: The big thing for me was I played sports growing up, and when you lost a body part, you think, ‘am I ever going to play again?’
Josh Wegge: I used to play this game six nights of the week before I joined the Marine Corps.
Jessica: Josh Wegge was a Marine Lance Corporal in Afghanistan in 2009. A bomb exploded under the armored vehicle he was riding in.
Wegge: It’s a very surreal feeling. I was nineteen at the time and looking down and seeing that, weirdest stuff goes through your mind. I had just bought a stick shift car and I was thinking, ‘how am I going to drive that and how my going to play sports?’
Jessica: Wegge pitches and plays first base for the Warriors, he is the team’s only double-amputee.
Wegge: I still love this game. To keep playing means the world to me and I know it does to these guys.
Jessica: The Warriors play to boost morale, competing against only able-bodied teams in games held around the country. Private donations cover their costs.
The Warriors have played seventeen games so far and won ten of them. They lost this game but they won the crowd.
Warrior fan: It’s very emotional. That they had to go through what they did for our country. They’ve gone through extensive rehabilitation, they’ve learned how to get back into society. It’s amazing. It’s just amazing.
Warrior: I mean I would like my legs back but, I mean, you’ve got to look at the glass half full. It’s a very humbling experience to be able to play for this team, be able to travel to some very awesome places and play the game we all love.
Warrior: Make the best out of a very bad situation.
Jessica: And that message is reflected in the Wounded Warriors team motto: life without a limb is limitless.