Story by Michael Bottoms
Green Beret Sgt. 1st Class Jacob “Jake” Anthony was deployed to Afghanistan in 2005 on a mission to find a target. His team was breaching a door that turned out to be booby-trapped, resulting in an explosion that killed his teammate in front of him. Anthony would take shrapnel to the right frontal lobe to his brain and had to be initially airlifted to Kandahar to be stabilized then to Landstuhl, Germany for further treatment and finally to Walter Reed Hospital in Maryland.
“My captain was in front of me, and he took shrapnel to the chest and unfortunately he passed away,” said Anthony. “They operated on me and removed some of the shrapnel.”
The 11-year Army veteran spent his career with 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) eventually separating in 2013, before being enrolled in the WCP-CC in 2014.
The mission of the Warrior Care Program- Care Coalition (WCP-CC) is to provide special operations forces wounded, ill, or injured service members and their families advocacy after life changing events in order to navigate through recovery, rehabilitation, and reintegration as quickly as possible, strengthening SOF readiness. Whether service members are returning to operational status, moving into a different field, or transitioning into veteran status, the USSOCOM Warrior Care Program – Care Coalition will help them get there.
“The Care Coalition has been a key component in helping me and my family connect with organizations outside of the military. By being instrumental in such things, I have been able to attend couples retreats to reconnect with my spouse and form lasting friendships with other SOCOM families, as well as several family bonding trips. Without such opportunities, my family would not have made such wonderful memories,” said Anthony.
Through the WCP-CC, Anthony learned about military adaptive sports and has been competing as part of Team SOCOM for five years.
In June of this year, he took part in the DoD Warrior Games Challenge held in San Diego, California. The sports featured in the DoD Warrior Games are a part of the larger DoD Warrior Care program. Adaptive sports provide reconditioning activities and competitive athletic opportunities to all wounded, ill and injured service members to improve their physical and mental wellness throughout the continuum of recovery and transition. Modified equipment and additional classification systems allow each athlete to compete, regardless of their injury or illness. The Warrior Games are designed to enhance recovery by engaging wounded, ill, and injured service members outside of traditional therapy settings.
“I was originally a little apprehensive to compete in adaptive sports since I’m able bodied, however I found out that there is a category for everyone regardless of disability,” Anthony said. “It is a very tight knit community that I was missing since I left the military. It has motivated me and given me goals to work toward.”
In September, Anthony took part in the International Invictus games held in Dusseldorf, Germany. Invictus offers a recovery pathway for the international wounded, injured and sick servicemembers and women and their motto is “Through sport, we change lives, and save lives.”
“The biggest difference between the Warrior Games and Invictus is it is a bit more competitive due to many other nations and competitors being involved in it. I really enjoy getting to connect with competitors from other countries as well,” said Anthony. “However, I really enjoy the much tighter knit atmosphere at Warrior Games.”
At the Warrior Games Anthony medaled in track with 100m gold, 200m gold, 400m gold, 4x100m gold, Powerlifting gold, Volleyball gold, and rugby with a bronze medal. At Invictus he medaled in track with 400m silver, 4x100m gold, and rugby gold.
After separating Anthony would graduate from the firefighting academy in Oklahoma and is now serving as a firefighter in Choctaw.
“I wanted to serve in another way, so I decided to become a firefighter. I enjoy the camaraderie and the feeling I get when I get to help people,” said Anthony. “It is a lot like serving in the military.”
The USSOCOM Warrior Care Program – Care Coalition guided Anthony throughout his entire transition from the military and he is but one success story in their mission of returning the servicemember to operational status, moving into a different field, or transitioning into veteran status.