Sports Help Wounded Soldiers and Police Officers Recover

Sports Help Wounded Soldiers and Police Officers Recover

By Dialogo
February 18, 2015





Colombian Soldiers and police officers that were wounded by landmines or improvised explosive devices (IEDs) are helping themselves recover from their injuries by engaging in athletics.

Together with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), the Colombian government is providing a broad rehabilitative approach that includes sports to help wounded Troops and police officers. These services allow injured service members return to civilian life in a productive manner.

Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzón is spearheading the establishment of the Disability Policy for the Defense and Security Sector, which provides funding for the rehabilitation of wounded service members. The policy also provides psychological services.

During the launch of the policy, on September 2, 2014, Minister Pinzón spoke of the need to provide the best care available to injured Troops and police officers, who are considered “national heroes.”

“It’s not enough to merely understand the problem, recognize their heroism, or fill ourselves with emotion and possibly tears,” Pinzón said. “We have an obligation to act, to mobilize resources, pass laws, find ways to ensure that these people are not left behind, not even for a second.”

Encouraging the wounded to help themselves through athletics


The government is assisting the wounded with policies that will facilitate their recovery, but also encouraging them to help themselves and become active agents in their rehabilitation.

Engaging in athletics is one of the ways injured Troops and police officers participate in their own rehabilitation.

Playing sports helps wounded Soldiers and police officers regain strength in their bodies and confidence in their physical abilities.

NGOs such as the Corpoalegría Foundation have joined the effort to provide rehabilitation services to injured Soldiers and police officers via equine therapy, for example, which allows people with injuries to ride horses as part of their recovery.

“There’s an energy that comes with riding a horse and you become transformed,” said former Colombian National Police Officer Leonardo Fuentes, who lost his left leg after stepping on a landmine during an operation against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) terrorist group in the Department of Antioquia in 2009.

“In my case, I ride without prosthetics, but when I’m on the horse, I don’t feel like anything is missing,” Fuentes said. “It’s as if the horse’s legs were a part of me, as if they were my legs and we have become one. It’s a full synchronization. We are one being.”

Fuentes, 27, now competes as a jockey and is training to represent Colombia in the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. Riding in competitive races has renewed his self-confidence.

The support of the Colombian government has renewed his faith in the world and helped him redirect his life, according to Fuentes.

“I had never ridden a horse and I don’t know if I would have. Who knows what my life would be like today if I wasn’t disabled,” Fuentes said. “What would I be doing? I don’t think I would be riding a horse. God works in mysterious ways.”

Sports is an effective tool in helping injured people rehabilitate themselves, according to Corpoalegría president Jeannette Rosas.

Equine therapy can have a positive impact on an injured person in just a few weeks, Rosas explained.

“They are no longer the same people who arrived with a disability. There are many disabled people who stayed locked in their homes. What we see is that sports provide them with a better quality of life,” she said.

Colombia’s sitting volleyball team, which includes Soldiers who lost all or parts of their legs to landmines or IEDS, will also compete in the 2016 Rio Paralympics.

Cooperation goes a long way in supporting the injured


The goal of the Disability Policy for the Defense and Security Sector is to provide wounded Troops and police officers rehabilitation services that allow them to recover from their injuries and succeed in civilian society.

In recent years, the Colombian government has allocated approximately $41 million dollars to provide rehabilitation services to wounded Soldiers, according to the Ministry of Defense.

But they are also making progress in better protecting the members of the security forces.

The government has spent $35 million dollars to purchase new equipment, such as body armor, to help Troops and police officers avoid injuries from landmines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

For example, the use of technologically-advanced protective gear, like body armor, helped Colombian law enforcement and Military authorities reduce the number of uniformed security officers wounded in combat by 46 percent in 2014, compared to 2013.

There were 431 uniformed security officers wounded in 2014, a significantly lower number than the 798 who were injured in combat or in terrorist attacks the previous year.

International cooperation is key


International cooperation is an important component of Colombia’s fight against terrorists and organized crime groups; it is also a key part of the government’s efforts to provide rehabilitation services for its wounded.

In July 2014, the U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) and the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) joined efforts to collaborate with the Colombian Military and police in search of innovative ways to mitigate IED threats, according to SOUTHCOM information. The idea is to use the painful lessons learned by both countries, the investments made during years in research and development, and the collaborative minds of Colombian and U.S. experts committed to this fight, according to SOUTHCOM's Public Affairs Office.

SOUTHCOM's Science and Technology Division began working with JIEDDO experts and Colombia's Vice-Minister of Defense's Office, Joint Directorate for Explosives and Demining, and the Army’s Counter IED and Mines National Center to plan collaboratively against the weapon that insurgents and criminal organizations use so frequently in Colombia.






Colombian Soldiers and police officers that were wounded by landmines or improvised explosive devices (IEDs) are helping themselves recover from their injuries by engaging in athletics.

Together with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), the Colombian government is providing a broad rehabilitative approach that includes sports to help wounded Troops and police officers. These services allow injured service members return to civilian life in a productive manner.

Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzón is spearheading the establishment of the Disability Policy for the Defense and Security Sector, which provides funding for the rehabilitation of wounded service members. The policy also provides psychological services.

During the launch of the policy, on September 2, 2014, Minister Pinzón spoke of the need to provide the best care available to injured Troops and police officers, who are considered “national heroes.”

“It’s not enough to merely understand the problem, recognize their heroism, or fill ourselves with emotion and possibly tears,” Pinzón said. “We have an obligation to act, to mobilize resources, pass laws, find ways to ensure that these people are not left behind, not even for a second.”

Encouraging the wounded to help themselves through athletics


The government is assisting the wounded with policies that will facilitate their recovery, but also encouraging them to help themselves and become active agents in their rehabilitation.

Engaging in athletics is one of the ways injured Troops and police officers participate in their own rehabilitation.

Playing sports helps wounded Soldiers and police officers regain strength in their bodies and confidence in their physical abilities.

NGOs such as the Corpoalegría Foundation have joined the effort to provide rehabilitation services to injured Soldiers and police officers via equine therapy, for example, which allows people with injuries to ride horses as part of their recovery.

“There’s an energy that comes with riding a horse and you become transformed,” said former Colombian National Police Officer Leonardo Fuentes, who lost his left leg after stepping on a landmine during an operation against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) terrorist group in the Department of Antioquia in 2009.

“In my case, I ride without prosthetics, but when I’m on the horse, I don’t feel like anything is missing,” Fuentes said. “It’s as if the horse’s legs were a part of me, as if they were my legs and we have become one. It’s a full synchronization. We are one being.”

Fuentes, 27, now competes as a jockey and is training to represent Colombia in the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. Riding in competitive races has renewed his self-confidence.

The support of the Colombian government has renewed his faith in the world and helped him redirect his life, according to Fuentes.

“I had never ridden a horse and I don’t know if I would have. Who knows what my life would be like today if I wasn’t disabled,” Fuentes said. “What would I be doing? I don’t think I would be riding a horse. God works in mysterious ways.”

Sports is an effective tool in helping injured people rehabilitate themselves, according to Corpoalegría president Jeannette Rosas.

Equine therapy can have a positive impact on an injured person in just a few weeks, Rosas explained.

“They are no longer the same people who arrived with a disability. There are many disabled people who stayed locked in their homes. What we see is that sports provide them with a better quality of life,” she said.

Colombia’s sitting volleyball team, which includes Soldiers who lost all or parts of their legs to landmines or IEDS, will also compete in the 2016 Rio Paralympics.

Cooperation goes a long way in supporting the injured


The goal of the Disability Policy for the Defense and Security Sector is to provide wounded Troops and police officers rehabilitation services that allow them to recover from their injuries and succeed in civilian society.

In recent years, the Colombian government has allocated approximately $41 million dollars to provide rehabilitation services to wounded Soldiers, according to the Ministry of Defense.

But they are also making progress in better protecting the members of the security forces.

The government has spent $35 million dollars to purchase new equipment, such as body armor, to help Troops and police officers avoid injuries from landmines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

For example, the use of technologically-advanced protective gear, like body armor, helped Colombian law enforcement and Military authorities reduce the number of uniformed security officers wounded in combat by 46 percent in 2014, compared to 2013.

There were 431 uniformed security officers wounded in 2014, a significantly lower number than the 798 who were injured in combat or in terrorist attacks the previous year.

International cooperation is key


International cooperation is an important component of Colombia’s fight against terrorists and organized crime groups; it is also a key part of the government’s efforts to provide rehabilitation services for its wounded.

In July 2014, the U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) and the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) joined efforts to collaborate with the Colombian Military and police in search of innovative ways to mitigate IED threats, according to SOUTHCOM information. The idea is to use the painful lessons learned by both countries, the investments made during years in research and development, and the collaborative minds of Colombian and U.S. experts committed to this fight, according to SOUTHCOM's Public Affairs Office.

SOUTHCOM's Science and Technology Division began working with JIEDDO experts and Colombia's Vice-Minister of Defense's Office, Joint Directorate for Explosives and Demining, and the Army’s Counter IED and Mines National Center to plan collaboratively against the weapon that insurgents and criminal organizations use so frequently in Colombia.


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