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Taking aim beyond the games

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By MARY THERESE GRIFFIN

Have you ever wanted something so bad that you would do just about anything to obtain it?

Staff Sgt. Ross Alewine, assigned to the Warrior Transition Battalion at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, has endured multiple surgeries following injuries he sustained over multiple deployments. As a result, the 29-year-old infantryman will soon be medically retired and leave the Army for civilian life.

With retirement imminent, Alewine is working hard to win the title “Ultimate Champion” at the 2018 Department of Defense Warrior Games hosted by the U.S. Air Force at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Alewine has been training four hours a day, six days a week leading up to the Army Trials at Fort Bliss, Texas in March, where he hopes to earn a spot on Team Army for the Warrior Games. To get there, he has one stop to make as well as a big personal goal to accomplish.

“I want to make Team Army and compete at the DOD Warrior Games for several reasons,” said Alewine. “The two that stand out and mean the most are that I can show other Soldiers who have injuries they can still be a competitor; and most importantly … to lead by example and challenge myself. One day, I want to be able to look back on this and teach my kids a valuable life lesson.”

In order to be named “Ultimate Champion,” Alewine must compete and perform well in all the events: track and field, air rifle and pistol, archery, sitting volleyball, wheelchair basketball and swimming.

“Becoming an Ultimate Champion is to push myself to the limit and see what I have left in the tank. It is not easy by any means,” Alewine said. “All the mental and physical work it takes to transition from one event to another is very challenging, but a challenge I take with a smile on my face. I truly just love competing and cheering my fellow brothers and sisters on.”

Alewine said he found that same kind of support at the Fort Belvoir transition battalion. He stressed that the battalion is not focused on developing athletes but on doing what’s best for each individual’s recovery.

“The WTB has a very balanced approach to everything,” Alewine said. “They want you to be as active as possible within the limits of your physical condition, and they teach you how to do so. For me, I tried to return to duty when I first got here, and they supported me 100 percent. But now, since I’m transitioning to veteran status, they [have] helped me focus on my life after the Army.”

Alewine has plans to start classes in the fall at Greenville Tech in Greenville, South Carolina. Though dealing with a traumatic brain injury, he said he feels confident he has the tools to press on.

“I have worked with my TBI clinic to figure out new ways to learn,” said Alewine. “With my TBI, educational learning can be a challenge, but I am confident that I will have at least a 3.5 GPA and graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Business within three years.”

As Alewine continues to train for Army Trials and hopefully compete at the Warrior Games, he is steadily preparing himself for a future beyond the Army and the Games.

“Sometimes life gets hard and knocks you down,” said Alewine, “but you always have to get up and give it your all, no matter what.” n