The 2017 Invictus Games took place from September 23 through September 30 in Toronto, Canada. Now, some of you may be wondering, what are the Invictus Games? These games were established in 2014 in England by Prince Harry. A year prior to the development of the games, Prince Harry had the opportunity to visit the United States based Warrior Games (DoD). These games are a chance for wounded, injured, and ill military veterans and personnel to compete in adaptive sports. Adaptive sports, also known as parasports, are sports at a competitive level for participants with disabilities. They very closely follow the rules of the sports that an able-bodied athlete would participate in, but with modifications in rules and equipment to meet the needs of the competitor. Prince Harry was blown away by this idea and what these games represented, so he strove to create an international version.

This year, Canada played host to the third Invictus Games. The Inaugural Invictus games were held in 2014 in London, and the second Invictus Games were held in Orlando, Florida in 2016. In the short time since the Games’ development, it has expanded to attract 17 nations and over 550 competitors, all of which are wounded, ill, and injured servicemen and women.

These games are inspiring. These brave men and women have served and made sacrifices for their countries, resulting in life-altering injuries, physical and mental, and are forced to learn a new way to live their daily lives. But, they do not stop there. These men and women have found a new normal, and new ways to live so that they are not defined by these injuries. In addition to simply finding a new normal, they have learned to incorporate adaptive sports into their lives.  

Why are these games important for the veteran communities here in the United States, and also around the world? In addition to helping these men and women find a new normal, it helps to bring them a sense of belonging. They are not alone, and together they are able to overcome the day-to-day challenges as well as the lifelong battles they may face. They can share their various mental and physical recovery programs, and find comfort in knowing they are not the only one in this situation and dealing with this. These games help to shine a spotlight and give a face to our heroes, their sacrifices, and their ability to overcome.

The United States participated in the third Invictus Games, in twelve different events. Here is how they finished:

  • Gold Medal in Wheelchair Basketball
  • Silver Medal in the Swimming Mixed 4x50m Freestyle Relay
  • Silver Medal in Archery for the Team Open Compound
  • Silver Medal in Archery for the Team Open Recurve
  • Bronze Medal in the Athletics Mixed 4×100 Relay
  • Bronze Medal in Sitting Volleyball
  • Bronze Medal in Wheelchair Rugby.

Each day our veterans struggle with their transition back to their normal civilian lives. Opportunities like the Invictus Games offer incredible opportunities for our service members to join into new and supportive communities. But, that is simply not enough. We, at the Purple Heart Foundation are committed to honoring all of our heroes, and it is our goal to make the transition from the battlefield to the home front a smooth one for all of our men and women in uniform who defend our freedom. Help to support the programs that can help our veterans on a day-to-day basis to receive the support and benefits that they need and deserve by making a one-time or monthly pledge.