Small Town, Great Journey

By most definitions, Ridgeway, Virginia, is a small town. Situated in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains on the North Carolina border, the Martinsville Speedway and the great outdoors count among the biggest attractions. U.S. Coast Guard Veteran Krissy Esget is one of fewer than one thousand people who call Ridgeway home.

U.S. Coast Guard Veteran Krissy Esget embraces U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sergeant Danielle Pothoof in celebration

U.S. Coast Guard Veteran Krissy Esget (right) embraces U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sergeant Danielle Pothoof in celebration after completing a 2017 DoD Warrior Games swimming heat, Chicago, Illinois, July 8, 2017

Esget, a retired Petty Officer 3rd Class, was injured in a 2012 car accident resulting in medical retirement from her military career. She credits DoD’s Military Adaptive Sports Program (MASP) and Navy Wounded Warrior – Safe Harbor as the inspiration driving her 180-degree change in perspective post-injury.

“I have a whole new meaning in life…something to look forward to. I have goals,” said Esget. “Laying in that hospital bed, I thought that was going to be the end for me; I wasn’t going to be able to do anything, to have a future. And now, I do.”

Drawn to athletics all her life, Esget feared having to sideline sports when she was injured. After returning to the swimming pool, however, she realized she could still swim to the other end. Fast forward to the 2017 Warrior Games in Chicago and Esget, who competed for Team Navy in field, swimming, and shooting events, earned two silver medals.

A Second Family

When Esget reflects upon her recovery process, she says the camaraderie among peers is in large part what makes her MASP experience so positive. Through year-round adaptive sports camps and clinics leading up to the Warrior Games and other major competitions, Esget and others develop a deep sense of companionship and shared experience.

“I never thought I would meet people that were like me. We all go through different situations, we all have different injuries but we all go through the same thing mentally and when we’re apart, we feel like we’re alone and there’s nobody to understand us,” said Esget. “When we’re together, we’re not only competitors, but we’re a family, we’re a team. We motivate each other and we don’t let our injuries become us.”

U.S. Coast Guard Veteran Krissy Esget competes in the air rifle (prone) category during 2017 DoD Warrior Games shooting competition

U.S. Coast Guard Veteran Krissy Esget competes in the air rifle (prone) category during 2017 DoD Warrior Games shooting competition, Chicago, Illinois, July 7, 2017

Mentorship 

Esget enjoys mentoring new athletes, drawing on her personal experiences for inspiration as she connects those just starting the recovery process with DoD programs and resources.

“Let this program help you because if you let it help you, it will,” advised Esget, who wants fellow wounded, ill, and injured service members and veterans to understand that they have to empower themselves by taking advantage of available tools for recovery and healing.

“Never give up. If you believe it, you can achieve it. If you set goals, you don’t have to accomplish them in a month, three months, or a year,” said Esget. “It’s the little steps that begin the journey. That should be the main focus.”

Learn more about the DoD Military Adaptive Sports Program and be sure to follow Warrior Care on Twitter @WarriorCare and Facebook @WarriorCare for the latest on service member recovery, rehabilitation, reintegration or transition to civilian life.