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A Nomad's journey at the 2019 Warrior Games

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Daniella Peña-Pavao
  • 33rd Fighter Wing

“Life can change in an instant and sometimes, for some of us, it’s like hitting a brick wall.” said Master Sgt. Melissa Martinez, 33rd Fighter Wing wing staff unit deployment manager.

Martinez suffered a leg injury during a deployment to Afghanistan in 2017. Her journey to recovery has not been easy, but she is excited to share what has really helped her during this difficult journey.

“There's something about sports that I would've never guessed would help me out in my recovery,” said Martinez. “After my injury, I fell into this really dark spot but the [Air Force Wounded Warrior] program showed me that I could still get out there and be competitive.”

She went to her first Warrior Camp on Eglin Air Force Base in 2018 where she was introduced to all the adaptive sports she could compete in. In March, she was selected to compete with the Air Force team in the 2019 Department of Defense Warrior Games where she competed in wheelchair tennis, indoor rowing, and track and field. She left the competition having earned three silver medals and two bronze medals.

“Winning these medals made me feel amazing but it’s not all about the medals and winning,” said Martinez. “It is really all about going out there and doing your best, and watching people push themselves.”

With the support of her family, Martinez has made great strides towards recovery through the Warrior Program.

“Ruben, my husband has been by my side through all of it and my children see ‘mommy’ going out there doing things that I would have never done before,” said Martinez. “Plus, the support I’ve gotten from the 33rd Fighter Wing has been incredible, I couldn’t have asked to be in a better unit.”

Martinez arrived to the 2019 DoD Warrior Games ready to give it her all and she succeeded in making her family, unit and Air Force proud.

“To be able to represent the Air Force and the 33rd Fighter Wing and to be part of something that is bigger than myself is truly humbling,” said Martinez. “From the bottom of my heart, I am so thankful to be here.”