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USAFE-AFAFRICA command chief visits Invictus Games 2022

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Michael Battles
  • U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa

The U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa command chief visited wounded, injured and ill service members, both still serving and veterans from every branch during a two-day visit to the Invictus Games 2022, April 16 -17, 2022 in The Hague, Netherlands.

The Invictus Games is an international sporting event for service members, past and present, who have been wounded, injured or ill to continue to compete in sporting events.  The games use the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding and respect of all those who serve their country.

“I’m humbled and honored to come out here and see the amazing spirit these athletes are demonstrating here at the Invictus Games,” said Chief Master Sgt. Benjamin Hedden, USAFE-AFAFRICA command chief. “These individuals epitomize the reason we put on the uniform each and every day, and I’m proud to say to that these are my brothers and sisters in arms.”

Postponed for the last two years due to COVID-19, the games this year will host roughly 500 competitors from 20 nations to compete in a series of adaptive sports.

“I travel often in my position, but trips like this are the most memorable to me,” Hedden said. “The opportunity to be in the stands and just cheer on Team U.S. is unmatched and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

There are 62 U.S. athletes competing at The Hague in 2022 representing all branches across the Department of Defense. The athletes will be competing in 10 adaptive sports including archery, track and field, indoor rowing, powerlifting, swimming, sitting volleyball, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby, and driving events.

According to Sir Keith Mills, Chairman of the Invictus Games Foundation, the games were chosen to be held in The Hague to inspire the competitors due to its unique history.

“Post-War, The Hague has undergone its own process of rebuilding and rehabilitation, a theme many of the competing can intimately relate to,” he said. “A city transformed; The Hague inspired a nation. So too, we believe the next Invictus Games will act as an inspiration to competitors and those attending or watching at home.”

The 2023 Invictus Games are scheduled to be held in Dusseldorf, Germany, in September 2023.