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Wounded Warriors training camp

PENSACOLA BEACH - They served their country and came home hurt.  This weekend on Pensacola Beach, some of those wounded warriors are using athletics to aid their recovery. 
More than a dozen para-triathletes from across the country are going through a training camp at Portofino Island Resort.  Team Semper Fi organized the three day event that culminated with a mock triathlon.

At one time each of the men and women participating in the triathlon proudly wore a military uniform, and for one reason or another, many of them were medically discharged.  Some lost limbs or suffered traumatic injuries.  As part of their on-going road to recovery, they've taken an interest in triathlon training.  They had to swim, bike and job about 11 miles to complete the challenge and nearly all of them managed to complete the challenge in less than an hour.
"The last few days we've been learning how to do open water swims, swim strokes, bike handling" said Chris Goener, PO3 Ret. Navy.

Chris Goener knows all about testing his abilities.  He was a Navy Corpsman attached to the U.S. Marines.  He served two tours in Iraq.  After his second deployment, he suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

"I was medically discharged in October of 2006, and ever since then there have been ups and downs on the road to recovery, and I'm just happy the triathlon is part of that" said Goener.

Nathan DeWalt has been a mentor for the para-triathlon athletes.  He too served in the Navy before suffering a spinal cord injury.  Now he's on the USA World Championship Team and a 2014 Rio Paralympic hopeful.

"To see a smile on these guys face just because they've finished the race, that's really what it's all about" said Nathan DeWalt, Paralympic Athlete, Ret. Navy.

The mock triathlon is more about building confidence and camaraderie amongst the veterans, and less about who actually wins.  For Chris however, it meant a lot to be the first to cross the finish line.

"It was great being able to get my first win in the race, I don't care if there were 17 people, a win is a win" said Goener.