When the son of a Leesville couple met his fellow competitors in this city that has become synonymous for training the world's elite athletes, getting here was never on his list of things to aspire to.  In fact, his pilgrimage to Colorado has often been marked by pain and heartbreak.


When the son of a Leesville couple met his fellow competitors in this city that has become synonymous for training the world's elite athletes, getting here was never on his list of things to aspire to.  In fact, his pilgrimage to Colorado has often been marked by pain and heartbreak.
Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Richard M. Miller, son of Richard Sr. and Carolyn Miller of Anderson Drive, Leesville, is a part of a small group of wounded warriors who have not only spent long hours of rehabilitation to regain a sense of normalcy, but have taken their recovery to a whole new level to compete in the 2011 Warrior Games competition.
Miller and competitors from all services are on the national stage to compete in a series of Paralympics events that range from sitting volleyball to wheelchair basketball, swimming, archery and track and field events.  Miller will compete for the Navy and Coast Guard team in the hand cycle and sitting volleyball events.
"This is truly a great experience that will last a lifetime," said Miller, a 1990 graduate of Leesville High School. "It is an honor to be a part of the Navy and Coast Guard team."
Athletes spent the week prior to the competition, which began on May 16, working as teams and honing their skills to competition level. For Miller and his fellow athletes, it was also a time to bond as fellow wounded warriors.
"The most memorable part of this experience is meeting new people and getting a chance to honor my command by representing the Navy," said Miller, a retired cook.
Warrior Games is a U.S. Paralympics competition sponsored by the U.S. Olympic Committee and features a combination of active duty and retired veterans who have sustained some type of injury during their service.  Some athletes have gold in mind, while others are simply here to enjoy the camaraderie and the experience of competition.
"I am here to excel in all that I do, not only for my own recovery, but to have this chance of competing. It is such an awesome experience," said Miller
Although the journey to these games has been a similar to the path of hard work and dedication most elite athletes face, for Miller and the small group of wounded warriors participating in this unique contest, Warrior Games 2011 has also been a testament to the spirit and 'gut wrenching' determination very few of us will ever experience.