Meaning of the Warrior Games: The role of camaraderie and motivation in participation




adapted sports, military, recreation


Objectives: Participation in adapted sports (AS) and other recreational activities increases quality of life by reducing negative mood states for injured military service members and veterans. Research exploring perceptions on the role of motivation and camaraderie among injured military service members and veterans who participate in AS is limited. Specifically, these concepts have not been explored among injured military service members and veterans who participated in the Department of Defense-Warrior Games (WG). Thus, the purpose of this study was to explore participants’ perceptions of motivation and camaraderie after participation in the WG.

Design: A qualitative study design.

Setting: WG held in Tampa, Florida (2019).

Participants: Using convenience sampling, 24 athletes (injured military service members and veterans) were recruited for this study.

Intervention: No intervention.

Main outcome measures: Athletes from the 2019 WG were interviewed using open-ended, semi-structured questions. Interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed. Constant comparison techniques were utilized. Two constructs guided the meaning of participation in the WG, motivation and camaraderie, which were identified in a previously unpublished study. Camaraderie and motivation are multifaceted constructs guided by the desire to feel part of/represent the military again, be with “like-minded” people, and increase physical and mental health.

Results: Seven total subthemes were identified across the two constructs. For motivation, the following three subthemes were identified: (a) goal setting, (b) health, and (c) inspiration. For the camaraderie construct, the following four subthemes were identified: (d) military identity, (e) like-mindedness and shared experience, (f) family, and (g) support.

Conclusion: This study provides preliminary understanding of the benefits of AS for military service members and veterans, specifically the WG, which is highly understudied. More research works are needed to understand the meaning of participating in nonelite AS competitions for military service members and veterans.

Author Biographies

Mackenzie Greenly, BA

Department of Recreation Therapy, School of Health and Applied Human Sciences, College of Health of Human Services, University of North Carolina Wilmington, Wilmington, North Carolina

Angie L. Sardina, PhD

Department of Recreation Therapy, School of Health and Applied Human Sciences, College of Health of Human Services, University of North Carolina Wilmington, Wilmington, North Carolina

Candace Ashton-Forrestor, PhD

Department of Recreation Therapy, School of Health and Applied Human Sciences, College of Health of Human Services, University of North Carolina Wilmington, Wilmington, North Carolina


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How to Cite

Greenly, M., Sardina, A. L., & Ashton-Forrestor, C. (2024). Meaning of the Warrior Games: The role of camaraderie and motivation in participation. American Journal of Recreation Therapy, 23(1), 9–24.