Bringing a smile to the 2015 Wounded Warrior Pacific Trials

The 2015 Wounded Warrior Pacific Trials brought together approximately 60 seriously wounded, ill and injured Sailors and Coast Guardsmen from across the country. They competed for an opportunity to represent the Navy and Coast Guard at the Department of Defense Warrior Games this summer. Below, we share the story of Krissy Esget, a former Coast Guard member who competed in these trials.

Written by Krissy Esget

Krissy Esget, a former Coast Guard yeoman, participates in the 2015 Wounded Warriors Pacific Trials March 11-13, 2015. Photo courtesy of Krissy Esget.

Krissy Esget, a former Coast Guard member, participates in the 2015 Wounded Warriors Pacific Trials March 11-13, 2015. Photo courtesy of Krissy Esget.

 

I always say: Make an effort, each day, to smile at a stranger. Because you never know if that smile might lift them out of a dark place.

Not long ago, I was in a dark place. Thankfully, the kindness of others, and my involvement in adaptive sports, brought much-needed light to my life. Last week, I participated in the 2015 Wounded Warrior Pacific Trials, and I was smiling from the moment the wheels of my plane touched down in Honolulu.

I come from a military family, and I moved around quite a bit during my childhood. It felt very natural to enlist in the Coast Guard in 2008. I trained as a yeoman because I wanted to build skills I could apply in the civilian workforce should I separate from the military.

Unfortunately, my instincts were rather good. Just three years later, I was hit by as a pedestrian by drunk driver. I sustained a traumatic brain injury and damaged my right knee. Since then, I’ve had to work through a lot of cognitive issues, insomnia and aphasia. I had to learn again how to write with my dominant hand, and I still sometimes have trouble reading. And, I was medically separated from the Coast Guard.

But my hard work throughout my recovery has paid off. Today, four years after my accident, I teach autism awareness, I volunteer for a local rescue squad, and I help brand new Emergency Medical Technicians pass their state practical exams. And, of course, I participate in adaptive sports, thanks to Navy Wounded Warrior – Safe Harbor.

Photo courtesy of Krissy Esget.

Photo courtesy of Krissy Esget.

Navy Wounded Warrior truly saved me. When I was feeling very low, a staff member contacted me about a sports camp, and, since then, my life has truly changed. Back home, people don’t always understand me, and the struggles I face, because I look perfectly normal. When I am with fellow wounded warrior athletes, I do not feel judged, and I never have to explain myself.

Also, events like the Wounded Warrior Pacific Trials remind me just how lucky I am. I have teammates who are missing limbs, and who are confined to wheelchairs, and, yet, they accomplish a great deal. Every time an EMT tells me he or she can’t do something, I remind them that they can – that there are many others who do so much more with less.

I dedicate my life to helping others, because countless people committed time and energy to helping me. I am alive and striving each day to make my life better, and I want to help others do the same.

As you can imagine, I am pretty busy; given all I’m juggling, I’m not home all that much. Luckily, my husband is incredibly supportive. When I arrived in Honolulu, he sent me an encouraging text message to let me know he’s cheering for me.

It said: “I’m very proud of you for doing this. You needed to prove to yourself that you can still do so many things.”

He’s right! There is so much more I can achieve. Life is short, and we only get one. That’s why I am determined to stay positive and make life better – for myself, and for others around me.

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