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AF leaders cheer on Airmen at Warrior Games

Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright speaks with Staff Sgt. Melinda Smith, a finance and comptroller troop from Keyser, W.Va., at the 2017 Warrior Games July 1, 2017 at McCormick Place-Lakeside Center in Chicago. Smith will participate in archery, field, shooting and track in this year’s games. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Chip Pons)

Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright speaks with Staff Sgt. Melinda Smith, a finance and comptroller troop from Keyser, W.Va., at the 2017 Warrior Games July 1, 2017 at McCormick Place-Lakeside Center in Chicago. Smith will participate in archery, field, shooting and track in this year’s games. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Chip Pons)

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein speaks with Master Sgt. Kenneth Guinn, an explosive ordnance disposal troop from Sunray, Texas, at the 2017 Warrior Games July 1, 2017, at McCormick Place-Lakeside Center in Chicago. Goldfein and other members of senior leadership traveled to Chicago for the official opening ceremonies of this year’s games to demonstrate their commitment and support for all Team Air Force wounded warriors. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Chip Pons)

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein speaks with Master Sgt. Kenneth Guinn, an explosive ordnance disposal troop from Sunray, Texas, at the 2017 Warrior Games July 1, 2017, at McCormick Place-Lakeside Center in Chicago. Goldfein and other members of senior leadership traveled to Chicago for the official opening ceremonies of this year’s games to demonstrate their commitment and support for all Team Air Force wounded warriors. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Chip Pons)

Team Air Force enters opening ceremonies for the 2017 Department of Defense Warrior Games at Soldier Field in Chicago, July 1, 2017. The DOD Warrior Games are an annual event allowing wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans to compete in Paralympic-style sports. (DOD photo/EJ Hersom)

Team Air Force enters opening ceremonies for the 2017 Department of Defense Warrior Games at Soldier Field in Chicago, July 1, 2017. The DOD Warrior Games are an annual event allowing wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans to compete in Paralympic-style sports. (DOD photo/EJ Hersom)

Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson gets a behind-the-scenes view of how the shooting events take place from Team Air Force’s shooting coach Robert Davis at the 2017 Warrior Games July 1, 2017 at McCormick Place-Lakeside Center in Chicago. Approximately 250 seriously wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans will participate in this year’s competition representing the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force and Special Operations Command. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Chip Pons)

Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson gets a behind-the-scenes view of how the shooting events take place from Team Air Force’s shooting coach Robert Davis at the 2017 Warrior Games July 1, 2017 at McCormick Place-Lakeside Center in Chicago. Approximately 250 seriously wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans will participate in this year’s competition representing the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force and Special Operations Command. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Chip Pons)

Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson speaks with Staff Sgt. Vincent Cavazos, a security forces troop from Fresno, Calif., during a meet-and-greet with archery team athletes at the 2017 Warrior Games July 1, 2017 at McCormick Place-Lakeside Center in Chicago. Cavazos provided Wilson with details surrounding the sporting event as well as bow handling techniques. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Alexx Pons)

Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson speaks with Staff Sgt. Vincent Cavazos, a security forces troop from Fresno, Calif., during a meet-and-greet with archery team athletes at the 2017 Warrior Games July 1, 2017 at McCormick Place-Lakeside Center in Chicago. Cavazos provided Wilson with details surrounding the sporting event as well as bow handling techniques. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Alexx Pons)

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Air Force senior leaders attended the 2017 Warrior Games opening ceremonies July 1, 2017, in Chicago to show support for the athletes participating in the weeklong competition.

While there, Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein, and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright attended several events in addition to the opening ceremonies, including pistol and rifle shooting, sitting volleyball and wheelchair basketball.

During the games Airmen will also compete in archery, swimming, track and field, and cycling.

"The Warrior Games showcase the competitive spirit of our wounded warriors," said Wilson. "Athletic competition at this level requires focused hard work of body, mind and spirit."

The goal of the Warrior Games is to use sports to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding and respect of those who serve.

“These athletes have risked it all for their country,” Goldfein said. “Competing in the Warrior Games is a testament to not only the hard work they’ve put in, but also to the family members and close friends who have made their own sacrifices to help them get here.”

Warrior care

Air Force leadership has made taking care of Airmen a priority through initiatives like the Air Force Wounded Warrior program, which works to ensure wounded warriors receive personalized support and care from the point of injury or illness, through return to duty, separation, or retirement, but acknowledge there is still work to be done.

“We take an aircraft off the line at a certain point for scheduled maintenance,” Goldfein said. “We pull panels, make sure everything is good, get it back on the line, and later we take a deeper look with depot maintenance. We do this for our aircraft, but what would it look like if we did this for our people?”

Goldfein said the Air Force is working to a build a program similar to Special Operations Command’s Preservation of the Force and Family initiative. POTFF looks at how Airmen are doing physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually on a regular, reoccurring basis, and makes sure they’re getting the type of support they need.

“The ultimate source of our capability as a service resides in the men and women of the Air Force,” Wright said. “We must put them first.”

Wilson agrees, adding that it’s important for the Air Force to maintain its wingman culture.

“We have to take care of each other, identify problems, and get Airmen help when it’s needed,” she said.