Alicia Lammers takes her role in life with her husband, retired Staff Sgt. Matt Lammers, very seriously. He is her life, and most don’t see what that daily routine is like. “Matt has post-traumatic stress disorder, two brain injuries, a triple [amputation], and I have a lot to do, but I do it with joy,” she said.
“When Matt said he wanted to go to Army Trials and get to Warrior Games, the training he does for all of this becomes our daily life. Not just his—ours. His goal becomes my goal. His medals are my medals,” she explained with a proud smile. They are Team Lammers, and they along with other spouses who were caregivers at the 2019 Department of Defense (DOD) Warrior Games were vital to the success of their soldiers in their new normal.
The 2019 Warrior Games were held June 21-30 in Tampa Bay, Florida. Since 2010, the games have introduced wounded, ill, and injured service members and veterans to Paralympic-style sports. This year, they featured 13 adaptive sports: archery, cycling, indoor rowing, powerlifting, shooting, sitting volleyball, swimming, track, field, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair tennis, wheelchair rugby, and golf.
“To me, it’s as equally important to have us [at the games] as it is having the athlete because we are here for support—we are here to help out physically and mentally,” said Alicia “We are involved in all the prepping and all the training.”
Sounds like a coach, right? It’s a little more involved than that, according to Lammers. For example, she times him in swimming with a stopwatch at the pool when he trains, but she goes much further in her coaching. “I have a dry erase board that I write on, and I have to do it because he likes swimming at least three miles a day. I write on that board—you are a half-mile or two miles—and I hold it up on the edge of the lane so he sees it or he’ll keep going. And if I see he is getting tired…I turn around his wheelchair that has his patches on the back. It has his Purple Heart, his crossed rifles, and his 10th Mountain Division patch, and that’s his reminder he’s not just doing it for him or for me, he’s doing it for his brothers because they are not here. They don’t have the opportunity he has even as a triple amputee to be with his loved ones and to get to swim in that pool.”
Alicia says she is all in, and she has to be. The dedication is awe-inspiring.
“It doesn’t get to stop when he gets in the water to swim. He needs to get out of the water; someone needs to help him with his shower and dress him; drive him back home; special meals at dinner; getting everything washed for the next day; and it starts all over again. That’s what I do,” she said with a grin.
So when fans cheer for Team Army, Alicia shares in that with utmost pride.
“At these 2019 Warrior Games, I feel that my worth as a caregiver has so much value,” she said. “The staff, the active duty, really everyone [is] so inclusive of the spouses.… It makes us feel like we are part of the team.”
This article is based on an original story by MaryTherese Griffin, Army Warrior Care and Transition.