(CBS) — We often hear of a game or a sporting event being referred to as a battle or war.
But there is a team of hockey players who know all about battles and wars, and these days they’re playing the game they love to raise awareness of other American heroes like them.
CBS 2’s Rob Johnson reports.
Inside Canlan Ice Sports in Romeoville, it looks like any adult league hockey game. It’s not.
The men in blue, the USA Warriors, are all disabled veterans.
Retired Army Capt. Mark Little lost both legs in Iraq in 2007 but was not deterred from playing again.
“My physical therapist says, ‘We need to set goals early. What’s one of your goals?’ I said, ‘Well, I love playing hockey.’ She goes, ‘You know what? I’ve got a surprise for you.’”
The surprise was legs for in-line skating. The rest is hockey history.
Retired Army Sgt. 1st Class Joe Bowser lost part of his leg in a 2004 attack. But the bigger decision was whether to remove the entire leg.
“The easy part was telling them I wanted to have it amputated, which only took me about 10 minutes, because it’s either dragging a leg around that you really can’t use of actually doing everything like everybody else,” Bowser says. “And I wanted to play hockey. I wanted to get out there with the two-leggers and show them that I can do this.”
The USA Warriors are based in suburban D.C. and have been raising money and awareness for and about disabled veterans since 2008. Roughly half the team are Purple Heart recipients.
For Army Sgt. Jeff Woods, who has family in the Chicago area, it’s about inspiring those born with disabilities.
“Somebody who was maybe born without a leg, to see something like that is really inspirational. Maybe more so than just the average Joe watching a game,” he says.
“In the military, it’s just adapt and overcome,” Bowser adds.
The USA Warriors’ plays Saturday night at Soldier Field. They’ll play a team put together by Chicago Congressman Mike Quigly, a big support. The team will include Johnson, other local celebrities, former Blackhawks players and hockey lovers.