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Hoops helping vets stay in shape

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Bryan Correira

Bennie Reine, center, gives instructions on how to fall and get up at the Warrior Transition Brigade basketball tournament November 21, 2013.

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For Sgt. Shane Lawry, persistence and hard work have the ability to get him through a lot.

Whether at a gym at Fort Hood or on the battlefields of Afghanistan, the 29-year-old Wisconsin native takes the same mentality going after rebounds, putting up shots and chasing down loose balls on the court as he does his recovery.

Lawry was part of a wheelchair basketball team that participated in the Warriors Transition Brigade game that highlighted Warrior Care month.

“I kept going, I kept fighting,” Lawry said.

“I didn’t want my guys to see me hurt as a noncommissioned officer. I kept working as hard as I could to keep it positive with my guys.”

Lawry comes from a military family and joined the Army in March 2007 partly because he always enjoyed the stories that his grandfather told him about being in the armed forces.

Wounded in Afghanistan

His life changed in Afghanistan on patrol as a member of the 101st Airborne Division. While on foot patrol, Lawry’s platoon sergeant found copper wire on a hilltop.

As Lawry was walking to investigate and make sure those wires were not a part of an improvised explosive device, suddenly he felt his body hit between two trees.

“They said I should be (recovered) already, but everyone is different and it doesn’t just go away overnight,” Lawry said. “Some weeks I go a couple of weeks with nothing, but then I could go every day with severe headaches and dizziness.”

For Lawry, participating in some of the activities provided by the Warriors Transition Brigade has helped him not only find something to occupy his time and stay in shape, but also build a sense of teamwork and camaraderie with other veterans who are going through similar experiences.

It also allows him to get in a bit of good-natured trash talk before the wheelchair basketball game.

“It’s fun, it’s amazing, you don’t know what to expect when you’re going against cadres that don’t know what they’re doing,” Lawry said about the brigade.

The day included full-court and half-court basketball games played between Command and Compass wheelchair basketball teams as well as a dodge ball game.

Bennie Reine said the wheelchair basketball team at Fort Hood has given him a way to stay in shape, work out and something to go to despite the loss of his leg in Iraq in 2006.

The team practices at the gym twice a week and Reine said the practices and games give him something to look forward to.

“When I got out of the service, what was I going to do?” Reine said. “Then I met a wheelchair basketball team so that’s how I got involved. Now I’ve got something I can do on certain days.”

Sport helps veterans adjust

Susan Wilson, an adaptive reconditioning coordinator, said she hopes the wheelchair basketball game is the first of many the Fort Hood team will participate in.

Wilson said being part of a team is essential to helping veterans adjust to noncombat life regardless of the activity.

“They’re part of a team,” Wilson said. “They work together, they can give each other a hard time as if they were back in the motor pool or something like that.”

Although the event only lasted a couple of hours, for adaptive sports coordinator Lt. Kheela Davis, it was weeks in the making.

“Everything we do is for the soldiers,” Davis said. “We make sure that we’re out here to benefit the soldiers. We try our best to make sure they’re understanding recovery, rehabilitation and that whatever they do is to enhance their overall lifestyle.”

Contact Albert Alvarado at alberta@kdhnews.com

10 images

Bryan Correira

Bennie Reine, center, gives instructions on how to fall and get up at the Warrior Transition Brigade basketball tournament November 21, 2013.

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