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Gwen Sheppard

Captain (Ret.) Gwen Sheppard is a two-time Warrior Games athlete, competing in archery, sitting volleyball and shooting. Her 27-year military career began at the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1981 and later included stints with the Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve and Nave Seabees. She first injured her shoulder during physical training at the Academy and suffered other injuries while deployed to Iraq with a civil engineering unit in 2003. Following that experience, she struggled to cope with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms but her participation in the Warrior Games helped her escape isolation and better handle PTSD. “I was extremely depressed and didn’t really want to come, but I committed to it, so I decided to put my best foot forward,” she said. “I talked with my fellow veterans and realized, ‘Dang, I’m not the only one.’ It changed my life completely.”

The competition and the bond she’s formed with other wounded warriors inspired her to encourage others to have the same chance she had. “I feel like I’m competitive again. I’m part of the team again,” Sheppard said. “I’m contributing to something that’s greater than myself again.”