Injured Marine veteran's life changes after trying sled hockey

The Gazette | By Joe Paisley | May 24, 2017 | Link to Article

Sled hockey may have saved area native John Callaway’s life.

“I was in a bad place in January,” the former endurance athlete and retired Marine said. “I was coming off my fourth surgery. I couldn’t lift my 1-year-old daughter. I had thoughts of suicide. But I got onto a sled (in February) and I was brand new again.”

“It makes me feel like who I used to be,” he added. “I can compete. I can hit. It’s the physical aspect but the mental aspect too, with the camaraderie you don’t get outside the military anymore.”

Callaway was one of 20 injured former servicemen and women taking part in the opening session of a three-day sled hockey introduction camp supported by the Semper Fi Fund and the Colorado Springs-based U.S. Olympic Committee military program.

The Marine was medically discharged in 2010 after suffering back injuries during his first tour in Afghanistan and sustaining another back injury during his second stint that left Callaway without the use of his legs.

The Broadmoor World Arena Ice Hall rink was where Callaway first learned skating before his family moved away.

“I am feeling a lot of nostalgia,” said Callaway who now lives in St. Petersburg, Fla., where his active-duty wife is stationed. “It’s nice to be home.”

The participants, whether near the start or well along the path to adapting to their changed lifestyle, take comfort in being among former servicemen and women who understand what they are going through, former Marine and San Diego resident Mike Rios said.

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