Louisville VA Medical Center
Second Wheelchair Games builds confidence for Vet
LOUISVILLE, KY -- Navy Veteran Jessica Martinez, 27, took a breath, exhaled slowly and pulled the trigger.
When the shooting stopped, she scored 492 in air rifle, one of 20 sports at this year’s National Veterans Wheelchair Games, putting her in medal contention.
“It looks promising,” she said enthusiastically.
Martinez served as a petty officer 1st Class with the Joint Communications Support Element, Tampa, Florida. In 2016 she was seriously injured while riding as a passenger on a motorcycle.
It was that life-altering moment that eventually brought her to the Games.
In addition to air rifle, she participated in discus, javelin and shot put for the track and field events; and the slalom –- an obstacle course of uneven platforms, stairs, curbs, ramps, sand and other rough surfaces.
It was the slalom, however, that was the most challenging. Her first time competing in this event, she struggled on several difficult maneuvers. The determination was etched in her face, as she made her way across various stages that dropped onto a short reverse ramp leading to the final obstacle, a set of stairs she had to climb up and down.
Descending the stairs, spectators cheered wildly as she crossed the finish line. Most proud were her biggest cheerleaders, coach Oania Romilson from the Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, along with her friend Suzy, who she met in basic training.
“Nothing can really prepare you for Slalom,” Martinez puffed, red-faced.
When she is not preparing for the Games, Martinez keeps active by fishing, exploring, kayaking and doing other outdoor activities.
Said Martinez: “Veterans should continue working hard and having goals. Anything you want to do there is something for you.”