They are the brave men and women who fought for our Freedom.
For one Tri-State veteran, hes endured many battles, but recently hes had the opportunity to experience something not many have.
“The experience means more to me than any other medal I could ever get,” says William Royster, Air Force Veteran.
An Ohio County native, Royster has always had a fascination for the military even as a little boy.
“I liked G.I Joes when I grew up,” says Royster. “I wanted to be one.”
And that he did. In 2004, Royster enlisted in the U.S. Air Force.
“My grandfather was a huge inspiration,” says Royster. “He was a combat controller in the Air Force which is something I strived to be.”
During his time served, Royster held several different roles.
“You know I’ve seen things most people will never see in their lifetime,” says Royster. “Done things most people will never do in their lifetime. It’s the best experience that I could ever imagine. If I could do it all over again I would in a heartbeat.”
But for Royster, there is more to his story.
“In 2015, July 15th 2015, I say that’s probably one of the worst days of my life,” says Royster.
He suffered a traumatic brain injury, among other things, that would forever changed his life.
“Spinal injuries, I blew out both of my knees, my left ear, the left side of my face, and essentially that’s what caused my medical retirement,” says Royster.
He officially retired from the Air Force in 2018, leaving him with scars much deeper than surface level.
“From the time of my injury to that point I kind of went off track,” says Royster. “I kind of got depressed because due to the severity of my injuries. I was unable to do the things I used to love to do.”
With an open mind, Royster applied to the Wounded Warrior Games, presented by the Department of Defense, and was accepted shortly after.
Only 40 members from each branch are selected annually, participants being chosen from all across the country.
“Every sport that they have there is paralympic style sports so they kind of adapted to your injury,” says Royster.
Using his athletic abilities in a new way, and alongside other veterans, Royster found a new outlet and a new perspective on life.
“It kind of saved my life,” says Royster. “I thought I was messed up, like I didn’t know how I was supposed to be. It actually made me feel normal and being around the other warriors they’re my family it normalizes and makes me feel the most at home.”
Royster will be trying out for this years games within the next month.
He says his message for other veterans:
“Don’t give up,” says Royster. “There’s plenty of outlets. You might think that you don;t have a shoulder to lean on, but there are resources I was made aware of that are out there for you.”