From the moment service men and women sign up for military duty, they are joining a team. They are together through all the highs and lows of military life.
When they are injured and their company goes on without them, they lose much of that camaraderie and feeling that they are a part of something bigger.
For a small portion of wounded local military, the Sounders FC are filling that gap through the Warrior Transition Battalion.
“It’s fun to be part of something and cheer for something,” Specialist April Miranda said Saturday. “Everybody’s so friendly and welcoming and that makes it that much better.”
Miranda is part of the group that joined the Emerald City Supporters Armed Services Group for the last two matches as part of the WTB program at Joint Base Lewis McChord. Originally started by Glen Mulkey and Matt Goeks, the ECS Armed Services Group has grown in numbers since the start of the 2010 season and has increased the visibility of the local military at Sounders FC home matches.
“They invited me to enjoy the last weekend and it was a lot of fun,” said PFC Gustavo Rivera. “I’ve been talking to all my friends and they were jealous. Everybody wants to have fun.”
Originally from Colombia and a Florida resident, Rivera has been stationed at Fort Lewis while his company has completed a tour overseas. Miranda, a California native who works with the California National Guard, recently returned from Kosovo, but remained in Fort Lewis as a medical holdover.
For both, attending Sounders FC matches over the last two weekends has provided an escape from their recovery schedules while providing an outlet for their love of a team atmosphere.
“This is awesome. I’m a big sports nut and this is the most fun and most exciting,” Miranda said.
“My company has been there and back and I feel down. I was part of that team and they went on without me,” said Rivera. “It’s nice. It makes us feel like we count – like people care about us as troops. We really appreciate the support they give.”
May 22, the Sounders FC will host Military Appreciation Day when they face the San Jose Earthquakes, when service members will have the opportunity to purchase discount tickets.
“The Sounders and Seahawks understand how service members love their teams. Military duty and deployments take people far from home, so we try to give our troops a connection through sports to something they love,” said Seahawks and Sounders FC VP of Community Relations Mike Flood, who served for 22 years in the US Coast Guard as an officer and aviator. “We especially appreciate those served by the Warrior Transition Battalion, and feel blessed that we can offer games, practices and special meetings to assist in the recovery of these brave men and women.”
On June 5, military from the WTB will return for a third time when the Sounders face the New England Revolution.