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Athlete Spotlight – Richard Fernandez: Finding Comfort on and off the Court

August 21, 2021 | Story by Megan Trexler | Commander, Navy Installations Command

WASHINGTON – Senior Chief (Ret.) Richard Fernandez joined the US Navy in 1997. After honorably serving 23 years, Fernandez medically retired in May 2020. Following his retirement, Fernandez was introduced to Navy Wounded Warrior Program while completing the Department of Defense’s Oasis Program; a treatment program for service members with combat-related PTSD.

During his initially meeting with the Navy Wounded Warrior team, Fernandez reminisced that he was glad to hear about the program; but that he was a little hesitant about participating in the adaptive sports program. Growing up, Fernandez participated in volleyball, but claimed that he wouldn’t consider himself “really an athlete outside the court.”

Fernandez expressed that the Navy Wounded Warrior’s adaptive sports program has been a safe place for him. “It’s through camaraderie that I find healing. I know that everyone here has a story…it makes me comfortable knowing that people understand,” Fernandez shared.

Fernandez was slated to compete in multiple sports during the 2021 Department of Defense Warrior Games. He shared that he was most looking forward to archery and sitting volleyball.

Navy Wounded Warrior is the Navy’s sole organization for coordinating the non-medical care of seriously wounded, ill and injured Sailors and Coast Guardsmen and providing resources and support to their families.

The Warrior Games are a Paralympic-style competition among more than 200 wounded, ill and injured service members from all branches of the U.S. military, as well as from international armed forces. The 2021 Department of Defense Warrior Games would have been hosted at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida from September 12-22, 2021. The invitation-only event was going to feature 12 sports: archery, cycling, field, golf, indoor rowing, powerlifting, shooting (precision air), sitting volleyball, swimming, track, wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby. The 2021 DoD Warrior Games were canceled due to ensure the safety, health and well-being of our service members and local communities as the COVID-19 Delta variant continues to affect the country.


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