Invictus Games: Meet the competitors who have returned to service after life-changing injuries – Invictus Games
Albarahmeh is back serving his country in the military, and at the Invictus Games. (ABC News: Taryn Southcombe)
After sustaining a life-changing injury while serving in the Jordanian army, Ahmad Hashem Jehad Albarahmeh is back doing what he does best.
The 22-year-old, who is competing at the Invictus Games in Sydney, was left in a wheelchair after an incident during a 2014 mission in his native Jordan.
While Albarahmeh did not want to talk about the circumstances surrounding his injury, it has not stopped him from returning to service, where he patrols the country’s northern border as part of a security unit.
“I used to go on missions and be armed with guns and I don’t do that anymore,” he said.
“But I love the army, I want to be serving for another 20 years.”
Albarahmeh’s military accommodation and duties have been tailored to suit his needs.
“They accepted me and my disability,” he said.
“And my comrades took me back like nothing happened.”
For competitors at the Invictus Games, an injury does not necessarily extinguish their passion to serve.
Take Australian able seaman Mark Daniels, for example, who became an amputee after a motorcycle crash.
He was back in uniform within three months.
“The navy is all I’ve ever known,” he said.
“If I got out I don’t really know what I’d do with my life.”
Daniels’ return was difficult.
He had gone from being a key player and deployed on a ship to on-shore duties.
“Being such an active position, for me, being in a wheelchair, killed me,” he said.
“Defence struggled to find a position for me that kept me meaningfully engaged given my skills.”
Daniels has gone from office job to competitor, and is involved in several Invictus sports, including wheelchair rugby.
He hopes to qualify as the Navy’s first amputee physical training instructor.
Meanwhile, US Army specialist Stephanie Johnson knew as soon as she was injured during combat in Afghanistan she would not be straying from the military.
She became an amputee after three rocket-propelled grenades landed near her and fellow soldiers while they were on duty in 2013.
She had only been in the army for 14 months.
“I was so new in the military and it was something I had always wanted to do,” she said.
“I didn’t finish what I started.”
Johnson, who won gold today in shotput, said she was very nervous waiting to hear if she would be accepted into a program for soldiers injured in combat.
To her relief, she started her role supporting wounded soldiers in August and has plans to serve for the next two decades.
“Injury or not I think I am a great asset to the army,” she said.