An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

NEWS | June 5, 2023

Take a risk and embrace imperfection!

By MaryTherese Griffin Army

Team Army athlete Sgt. Shawn Lee openly admits he’s a bit of a risk taker, and that’s a good thing. “You must be a risk taker,” said the infantryman. I took a risk with adaptive sports and am doing things I never would have done in my life, and for me it is life changing.”

He faced serious life-changing circumstances when he was hit by a tractor trailer in snowy conditions while on deployment in Poland. “I was medevac’d with a traumatic brain injury, damage to my arm and multiple pelvic injuries,” said Lee. “I’ve had four surgeries.”

He arrived at the Fort Belvoir Soldier Recovery Unit in February 2020, unsure of his future but willing to take risks to face whatever lay ahead.

“I had to learn what my new normalcy would be,” said Lee, who was competitive as an athlete, particularly in soccer before the accident. “I think there is a common misconception when you come to the SRU. Obviously, you come hurt or not the same as you were before your accident or whatever happened to you, and it’s easy to think that you will leave here 100% and that is not the case.”

Lee embraced his new normal with adaptive sports while at the SRU. He said it was the ultimate game changer. “Adaptive sports absolutely allowed me to cope,” he added. “It’s allowed for new coping mechanisms that are healthy… things that I never would have done before. For example, I would have never picked up a bow and arrow and shot archery. And then to become good at it? It really boosts your self-confidence.”

The Team Army member confidently competed and won gold in powerlifting at the 2023 Department of Defense Warrior Games Challenge competition in San Diego this week. He will also compete in archery, swimming, cycling, track, and shooting. All things he says help him in his quest to recover and overcome.

“It’s a blessing,” said Lee. “I’ve trained hard. My command has put their faith in me to compete well and the Army has been nothing but good to me. I love the Army. I’m sad to be out of it but to have this chance to represent Team Army and to do it here in my hometown of beautiful San Diego is great!”

He also thinks it’s great that he learned to cope with the fact that he would be a transitioning Soldier. “I was thinking that it’s not about perfection it’s more about progress,” said Lee. “I’ve been living my life through this (adaptive sports). It’s ok to reach for perfection but perfection means you’re already perfect so there’s a bit of stagnation when you’re perfect and you can’t go up. But if you’re always progressing, you’re never staying the same. No one ever stays the same. You either get better or you get worse. Don’t be pond water, be a river that keeps rushing.”