Prince Harry joins First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Biden to Officially Launch Invictus Games Orlando 2016
Washington, 28th October 2015 – Invictus Games Foundation Patron Prince Harry today joined the First Lady and Dr. Biden in Washington to officially launch the Invictus Games Orlando 2016 and showcase their joint support to service members, veterans and their families.
The Prince, First Lady and Dr. Biden visited Fort Belvoir military base and met with wounded, injured and sick Servicemen and women undertaking recovery and rehabilitation programmes. The party toured the USO Warrior and Family Center, a state-of-the art facility specifically designed to support these men and women, their family members and caregivers.
The visit was an opportunity to highlight public awareness campaigns in the USA which focus on the importance of supporting people with invisible injuries. In 2011, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden came together to launch Joining Forces, a nationwide initiative calling all Americans to rally around service members, veterans, and their families and support them through wellness, education, and employment opportunities.
Joining them on the visit were two competitors from the British Armed Forces team who took part in last year’s Games.
Mickaela Richards, from the Royal Navy, won three medals at the 2014 Invictus Games. Following a car crash in 2011, she sustained a brain injury, right hip damage and suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Mickaela Richards explains: “It can be quite hard for people to understand what you’re going through when you have an invisible injury like mine. It took me months to realise the extent and impact of my injuries and I’d reached rock bottom – I couldn’t get out of bed, I hated everything about life because I wasn’t all that I had been before my injury.
“Quite simply, taking part in the Invictus Games has changed my life. I’m a completely different person now – more focused, resilient and I feel like there is no limit to what I can achieve. I really hope I get selected for the Games in Orlando – I really want to come and defend my medals!”
A former Captain with the Army in the Royal Engineers, Rob Cromey-Hawke was injured during his second tour of Afghanistan in 2012 after the vehicle he was traveling in drove over an IED. He sustained a traumatic brain injury, back and spinal injuries and hearing loss. Rob won two Gold medals in the cycling event.
Rob Cromey-Hawke explains: “I can still remember taking part in the Invictus Games like it was yesterday. The crowds, the public cheering and the sense of camaraderie amongst the competitors was just unbelievable. Having taken part in the Warrior Games, I know the US is going to put on a fantastic event and I’m going to do all I can to be selected.
“Sport has played such a huge part in my recovery. The Games last year taught me that I don’t need to be defined by my injuries and that I can achieve as much as I did when I was in the military. In fact, it’s inspired me to do more and more with my life.”
Prince Harry, Patron of the Invictus Games Foundation said: “One thing we have to talk about more is breaking down these barriers around so-called invisible injuries, like post-traumatic stress. This fear of coming forward, as a result of the stigma which surrounds mental health, is one of the greatest challenges veterans face. We have to help them all to get the support they need, without fear of being judged or discriminated against. Not only is it ok to talk about it, we have to talk about it. I hope that Invictus 2016 will remind people everywhere just how incredible our service personnel are, and how much of a positive contribution to society they make.”
Ken Fisher, Chairman and CEO of Invictus Games Orlando 2016 said: “The power of sport aids the recovery and rehabilitation of our wounded military heroes. The 2016 Games will highlight the journeys and achievements of those recovering from visible and invisible wounds. We must continue the dialogue that will inspire these men and women to reengage, to embody what they can do and shine a light on the often dark and isolated area of invisible injuries. In just over six months, 500 competitors from 15 nations will arrive in Orlando with their friends and family to compete in the 2016 Games. We want to give them the best United States welcome we can.”
It was also announced that Jaguar Land Rover, who sponsored the 2014 Games, would once again be the Presenting Partner for the Invictus Games in Orlando next year.
The Invictus Games Orlando 2016, presented by Jaguar Land Rover, will take place from 8-12 May 2016 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.