San Antonio has been selected as the host of the 2022 Department of Defense Warrior Games, while the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, will host the 2023 competition, which features more than 300 wounded, ill or injured athletes who are active duty or veteran service members.
The U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) made the site selections, and the Games will be organized and co-hosted by the United States Veterans Chamber of Commerce. “We are honored to have a leadership role in the ’22 and ’23 Games,” Paul “Bud” Bucha, a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient and chairman of USVCC said in a statement. “These ‘warriors’ are a very special part of our community who are stalwarts of honor, courage and commitment.”
First held in 2010, the Warrior Games brings together competitors representing the Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Special Operations Command, as well as international allies. They will compete in wheelchair basketball, cycling, swimming, powerlifting, wheelchair rugby and other adaptive events. The Games aid the athletes’ recovery process and facilitate a sense of camaraderie and community.
Bucha is excited about both host sites. In addition to having extensive experience holding major competitions, including six NCAA men’s and women’s Final Fours, “San Antonio has one of the finest hospitals in the world in the field of combat medicine,” Bucha added in an interview.
The Texas city had been chosen to host the 2020 Games, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced their cancellation. “While disappointed with the cancellation of the 2020 Games, this announcement is welcome news for our community,” San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said in the statement. “We look forward to collaborating with the USVCC, San Antonio Sports, the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the military and our community partners to produce a world-class event showcasing our great city, our military partners and the community supporters who call San Antonio home.”
Bucha said the Pro Football Hall of Fame is another ideal location for the event. “That whole campus will be the most well-equipped facility you’ve ever seen,” he said.
“Canton and the Pro Football Hall of Fame have a longstanding tradition of honoring excellence and honoring heroes,” David Baker, the Hall of Fame’s president and CEO said. “Those who participate understand the Warrior Games honor not only heroes in competition, but also all heroes who have fought and sacrificed on behalf of the safety and freedom for us and our families.”
Events will be open to the public, with venues and schedules to be announced. San Antonio and the Hall of Fame will follow the 2021 Warrior Games, set to be hosted by the U.S. Army at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando in September.
Bucha said the Games “are an exquisite and wonderful time” for the competitors and their families. “Why are we doing this?” he asked. “To inspire people. If you can inspire people in this day and age, you’ve really done something.”