AUSTIN, Texas - A Texas National Guard soldier receiving treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder hopes to get a boost in his recovery by competing in the inaugural Warrior Games this week in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Army Spc. Shawn Porter will compete in the 10-meter air rifle standing/non-supported and the 30-meter recurve-bow open events.
The 136th Military Police Battalion soldier deployed to Afghanistan in 2009. While recovering from surgery at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany in November, Porter was diagnosed with PTSD and transported to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, where has been undergoing treatment when he's not at the shooting range.
"The intense six- to eight-hour rifle and archery training is helping me to quiet my brain," he said. "When I shoot, I can only focus on one thing, and I believe the sport has helped me therapeutically."
Porter said he used to be one of those soldiers who don't believe in PTSD.
"This has been a real eye-opener for me," he said. "The PTSD did not manifest itself after I returned from Iraq, but [was] diagnosed when I returned for surgery from Afghanistan during my second deployment." Porter said he wanted to return to Afghanistan after his surgery, but the PTSD prevented that from happening.
"It is an illness, and because I am seeing my psychologist twice a week, I am making great progress," he said. "When I returned home, I could not cope with being a dad and husband, and my family deserves that I get good treatment."
The sport is a healing aid, Porter said, because it has allowed his competitive nature to come to the forefront.
"I am confident that I will bring back medals," he said, "and I want my fellow soldiers to know that I will be doing it for the 136th MP Battalion in Tyler, Texas."
Porter is a part-time soldier. When he's not activated for military duty, he manages an outdoor sports warehouse in civilian life. He has been training with archery coach Skip Dawson.
"He has the patience and intelligence to do it," Dawson said of Porter's ability to compete in archery events. "He is physically in very good shape, and his stance and form are very good."
Competition comes naturally to Porter, who likes to hike, fish, hunt and ski. He trains every day.
I can't stand to stay home and do nothing," Porter said. "I just have to stay busy."
The Warrior Games, which kick off today, feature some 200 of the most athletic wounded active-duty members and military veterans in Paralympic-style competition. The U.S. Olympic Committee is hosting the games at the Olympic Training Center. Events will include shooting, swimming, archery, track, discus, shot put, cycling, sitting volleyball and wheelchair basketball.