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    Doing What Comes Next



    Story by Spc. Dakota Price 

    210th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

    Mr. Smith is competing as an air pistol shooter in the 2016 DoD Warrior Games at the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. But in the weeks leading up to the Warrior Games Mr. Smith underwent 15 radiation sessions that began with five concurrent days of chemotherapy after removing a baseball-sized tumor from his brain. He described how his cancer had spread up from his leg, into his his, and eventually into his brain. “It's very tiring,” said Mr. Smith.
    Back in 2012 Mr. Smith was out cycling when he fell and scratched his leg. A mole on his leg would not stop bleeding, so he went to have it examined. The diagnosis was skin cancer. As more tests were done and more treatments and surgeries performed, it became clear the cancer had spread farther and farther.
    While Mr. Smith was progressing with the medical process at Naval Medical Center San Diego, he applied to the Navy Wounded Warrior–Safe Harbor program. Safe Harbor, which sponsors Navy athletes in the Warrior Games, provides support like athletic and employment opportunities for more than 2,250 wounded warriors, as well as their families.
    When Mr. Smith first went to the training camps for Safe Harbor he met John Dusseau.
    Dusseau was a previous member of the Navy's Warrior Games team who also had cancer. “John made sure to come over at the first practice and see me,” said Mr. Smith. “He shared his situation and helped set up my expectations for later treatments.”
    Such behavior is typical of the warriors on the Navy team. “Everyone's very supportive,” said Mrs. Smith. “It's good to see we're not alone. And they understand what you're going through.” Mr. Smith added that, “Safe Harbor is a great program. If you're not in it, you should be. It gives you goals. I knew where to be and what I needed to do.”
    The support from his wife and military family has made the difference. The couple says they are not depressed or worried about the future. In fact, they sold their house and bought a motorhome so the family can go on a road trip after Mr. Smith retires from the Navy in September.
    “We're going to home school our son, visit national parks, and enjoy the time we have together,” said Mr. Smith. They are living life for today, as a family, because that time together might be cut short. “Ever since we got the first diagnosis we've been one day at a time. We stay positive for our son,” said Mrs. Smith.
    Today the Smiths are simply enjoying their time at the Warrior Games. Several large televisions are streaming shooters that are still competing on the range in the building next door. Mr. Smith definitely wants to come back next year and compete if he is able. But regardless of his placement or ranking in his event, he still has his family and a road trip to look forward to after enjoying some friendly competition. This time Mr. Smith speaks, his wife nods in agreement, “We're just doing what comes next.”

    Navy Wounded Warrior-Safe Harbor is the Navy and Coast Guard's wounded warrior support program. Team members have upper-body and/or lower-body injuries, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, visual impairments, serious illnesses and post-traumatic stress.
    To learn more about NWW, the DoD Warrior Games and adaptive sports, visit http://safeharbor.navylive.dodlive.mil; call 855-NAVY WWP (628-9997) or email navywoundedwarrior@navy.mil.
    Follow NWW on Facebook (www.facebook.com/navysafeharbor) and Twitter (@navysafeharbor) for the latest news from Marine Corps Base Quantico.

    For more news from Commander, Navy Installations Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/cni/.



    Date Taken: 06.20.2016
    Date Posted: 06.20.2016 14:42
    Story ID: 201812
    Location: WEST POINT, NY, US 

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