Veteran Athletes

The Olympics are a unique event in which all Americans can support the athletes who represent the United States. Each of those Olympians has a fascinating story of their journey to the place they are now and how they came to be among the world’s best in their specific event.

Some of those athletes have also represented the US in another way: seven Olympians on Team USA at Pyeongchang are Army veterans.

Similarly, in the Paralympic Games—Olympic events for those with disabilities—which began on March 8th, have numerous men and women who have been hurt in some way during a deployment in Iraq, Afghanistan, or another duty station.  It is a terrific chance for veterans to stand once more for the United States.

The US bobsled team is almost entirely constituted by soldiers, with driver Sergeant Nick Cunningham, push man Sergeant Justin Olsen, brakeman Major Chris Fogt, and push man Sergeant First Class Nate Weber. The last three athletes are Lugers, with Sergeant Matt Mortenson, Sergeant Taylor Morris, and Sergeant Emily C. Sweeney.

Emily Sweeney after complete a luge run

Sergeant Cunningham comments on the unique and unusual relationship between his military career and his Olympic one: “The Army teaches preparation and how to overcome adversity, and that plays a role in our sport, too — readiness and being ready to go.”

Likewise, Major Fogt says, “In the Army, you have to be part of a team from your very first day of basic training. On top of that, we’ve been through worse situations. When you’re bobsledding and it’s minus-20 degrees on the hill and it’s snowing and blowing, you remember you’ve been on the field without meals in this kind of weather, hanging out in a foxhole. So that mental toughness helps us a lot.”

Taylor Morris describes the thrill of the Olympics: “It’s the biggest amount of redemption that you really could ever feel when you train for so long,” he says.

None of the Olympians medaled in their events, but making it to the Olympics is still a prominent achievement, and to be able to participate for the United States makes it all the more meaningful.


Works Cited:

  • “Becoming the Next Army Olympian.” ArmyMWR,

world-class-athlete-program/olympians. Accessed 1 Mar. 2018.

  • Flynn, Greg. “Meet The 7 US Soldiers Going For Gold At The Winter Olympics.” Task and Purpose, 8

Feb. 2018, &utm_medium=email&utm_content=tp_daily_pm_ricks&bsft_pid=cd51cd75-9e02-41a9- b0ae-65d42b78dd7d&bsft_clkid=167c80b4-bf8a-4ceb-b602-3631e810504b&bsft_uid=e43db03c-54f5-4984-a4ed- a027d28e468b&bsft_mid=741c5 49c-4d5d-49db-b1c6-05afc878ea4e&bsft_pp=7. Accessed 1 Mar. 2018.

  • NBC Olympics. “Athletes to watch at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games.” NBC Olympics, 14

Dec. 2016,

Accessed 1 Mar. 2018.

One Comment

  1. Okay, its nice to know that I wasn’t the only one who binge-watched the Paralympics as well! (I am still catching up on sled hockey… Just a few days behind!)