Marine Corps veteran, Douglas Godfrey Jr. makes his way to Colorado Springs to compete in his second Warrior Games
By Courtney Cooper
Douglas Godfrey Jr. practices for his archery competition at the 2017 DoD Warrior Games in Chicago, Ill. on June 30, 2017. (Photo by Courtney Cooper)
After 15 years of service, Marine Corps veteran Douglas Godfrey Jr. has found a new way to represent his branch. After a scuba diving incident that resulted in a decompression injury affecting his spinal cord in March 2016, Godfrey recovered and found the Warrior Games where he is able to compete in multiple sports with other service members.
Godfrey joined the Marine Corps shortly after September 11, 2001. Before then, joining the military was always a thought in his mind, but he chose to pursue college first. After 9/11, the Marine Corps seemed to be calling his name.
“I always viewed the Marine Corps as the most challenging service,” he says. “I also knew that the Marine Corps was known for their ‘Esprit de Corps’ and ‘never leave a Marine behind’ philosophy, which was important since I was joining during a time of war and likely to deploy to Afghanistan.”
Douglas Godfrey Jr. competes in air rifle at the 2017 DoD Warrior Games in Chicago, Ill. on July 3, 2017. (Photo by Courtney Cooper)
Serving his country meant a lot to Godfrey, which is why he stayed until his injury led him to retire in 2017.
“Being part of something bigger than myself and seeing the impact that I could have, both at home and abroad, was my favorite part about serving my country,” Godfrey says. “I really enjoy seeing what the Marines under my charge have been able to accomplish later in life because of the impact that my leadership and mentoring had on them.”
Known as Gunnery Sergeant (GySgt), Godfrey has the mindset of a leader. He will be competing at the 2018 DoD Warrior Games starting Friday, June 1. His goals for the Warrior Games are focused on helping others.
“My goals are to help and lead my team by setting the example and offering advice and assistance whenever necessary, as well as pushing my competitive limits,” he says.
Godfrey will be competing in archery, cycling, shooting and swimming. Hand cycling and rowing were a major part of his rehab therapy during recovery at the Veterans Affairs (VA) Hospital, which led him to try adaptive sports. He started competing in adaptive sports after joining the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) Cal-Diego chapter.
“I am competing to push myself beyond what I can see as my limits and to help my teammates and fellow competitors determine how far they can push their own boundaries,” Godfrey says. “I really enjoyed myself [last year at the Warrior Games] because we were there to prove to ourselves that we could still be an integral part of a team and be competitive, despite our injuries or illnesses.”
Godfrey’s goals beyond the Warrior Games are to continue to train and make Team USA for the Invictus Games and to qualify for the US Para-Archery Team.
Of all the sports he is competing in, Godfrey favors archery because of the use of his mind and hard focus it takes. Since his injury, sports have been an essential part of his recovery, not just because of the physical act, but the mental act has been crucial for him as well.
“Sports have helped me maintain a positive mental focus where my ‘problems’ don’t exist,” he says. “When you are so focused on all of the little nuances that you need to maintain your discipline, the world melts away and it is just you and your target. It is the best form of therapy that I have ever found.”