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Advance on the sacrifice

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This past weekend on a dusty infield in Nashville, N.C., three softball games were played in an all-day tripleheader. Two of the visiting teams were members of the Rocky Mount Police Department and the Nash County Sheriff's Department and the third was the North Carolina State Highway Patrol women's team. None of them had a chance. The RMPD lost 19-8, the NCSD 25-15 and the NCSHPW 30-1.

They lost to the home team, The Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team. Every member of the 24 person team has lost an arm or leg, or two, in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, all but one post 9/11.

David Van Sleet, an Army veteran, with a background in prosthetics and a history of work with the Veteran's Administration, started the team in 2011. His goal is to raise awareness of the amputation injuries sustained by veterans, highlight their ability to regain their physical strength and to help them find a community of people with similar experiences.

Far from a grim reminder of the last grinding decades of war, the game was fierce, competitive and fun. The team members slid into bases, turned double plays. Occasionally someone would have to reset a loose prosthetic between innings.

In war, injury is inevitable. Whether physical or mental, it touches everyone. What is not a given is the ability to move beyond that moment of pain. The WWAST is one way that some have found to make that transcendence happen.

Justin Feagin warms up to bat. Feagin, an Army veteran, lost his left foot to an IED in Afghanistan in 2010. - PHOTO BY JEREMY M. LANGE
  • Photo by Jeremy M. Lange
  • Justin Feagin warms up to bat. Feagin, an Army veteran, lost his left foot to an IED in Afghanistan in 2010.

Josh Wege makes a play at second base. Wege, a retired Marine, lost both of his legs below the knee when an IED blew up his vehicle in Afghanistan. - PHOTO BY JEREMY M. LANGE
  • Photo by Jeremy M. Lange
  • Josh Wege makes a play at second base. Wege, a retired Marine, lost both of his legs below the knee when an IED blew up his vehicle in Afghanistan.

Nate Lindsey prepares to bat. He lost his right arm below the elbow in Iraq in 2007 while serving in the Army. - PHOTO BY JEREMY M. LANGE
  • Photo by Jeremy M. Lange
  • Nate Lindsey prepares to bat. He lost his right arm below the elbow in Iraq in 2007 while serving in the Army.

Bobby McCardle, heads for first base. McCardle, a Marine, lost his leg to an IED in Iraq. - PHOTO BY JEREMY M. LANGE
  • Photo by Jeremy M. Lange
  • Bobby McCardle, heads for first base. McCardle, a Marine, lost his leg to an IED in Iraq.

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