AFLCMC First Sergeant earns multiple medals at recent Warrior Games

  • Published
  • By Allyson B. Crawford, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center Public Affairs
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB, Ohio (AFLCMC) - The Department of Defense (DoD) Warrior Games took place August 19-28 in Orlando, Florida. This was the first games since the pandemic halted competition for two years. Among the athletes competing was SMSgt Benjamin Seekell. He spends his days as AFLCMC First Sergeant. His evenings are spent with his four kids, wife, two dogs – and maintaining a rigorous training schedule.
In 2011, Seekell was working as a dog handler in Afghanistan when an IED exploded under him, causing the loss of a leg below the knee. Months of physical therapy got the Airman back at work and he eventually ramped up his fitness to a whole other level. 
“I generally stayed relatively fit, but I wasn’t into sporting events,” explains Seekell of life before his accident. “It just wasn’t something that I was particularly interested in. That was a passion that I discovered after being introduced to the program.”
The “program” was created in 2010 by the DoD to introduce wounded service members and veterans to Paralympic sports. All branches of the military may compete in the Warrior Games. Like the Olympics, an individual must qualify in his or her respective sport to earn a competition spot. This individual then represents their branch of service. Wounded military members from allied countries may also compete in the Games. This year, the games welcomed wounded military veterans from Ukraine.
“The Air Force has trials like a mini competition,” explains Seekell. “Usually in January, February - and they bring in athletes from all over the Air Force and we compete against each other, and they take the best of that.”
Seekell competed with the program in 2015 and 2017. He was also part of the American team at the Invictus Games in 2016, 2017 and 2018. At the Invictus Games, all U.S. military members compete as Team USA. The Invictus Games were created in 2014 by Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and based on the Warrior Games format.
From his participation in the Warrior Games, Seekell has earned 18 medals. He says he has “probably 15 or 16” from the Invictus Games.
With a career change to First Sergeant and COVID-19 cancellations, Seekell had a four-year break from competing. He wanted to take care of the folks who needed him and focus “less on himself.” When he was invited to compete again at this year’s Warrior Games, it was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up. He worked hard and brought home some hardware for his efforts.
Seekell competed in track, earning a bronze medal in the 800 meter 4.5a men’s race. He also won a silver medal in the 1500 meter 4.5a men’s race. As for the overall Air Force team, the players in blue – helped by Seekell – swept gold in all three team competitions: sitting volleyball, wheelchair basketball and wheelchair rugby. This is the first time the Air Force has won all three team sports in a single Warrior Games.
Athletic training for anything serious like a marathon is a major time commitment. Competing in selectively aggressive sports is even more arduous. Seekell says he runs 25 miles a week, training every day except Sunday. There are a lot of long bike rides as he competes in the upright cycle category. Instead of heading to a traditional gym,  Seekell prefers to train at home in the early morning or late evening hours.
If you are inspired by Seekell’s tenacity but don’t know how to get started on a regular fitness routine, he has some basic advice:
“Stop talking about it, be about it. The hardest thing to do is start. If you can start, everything after that gets so much easier. You just have to take that first step and commit to doing and that's kind of what me and others in our community have done. I think we all deal with self-doubts. But until we take the step to ‘just do it’ anyway, our journey can begin.”
This is Seekell’s final year as a First Shirt. He will move back to his career field in the security forces as a senior leader. While he waits for his next assignment, he continues to enjoy his time helping Airmen in the Center… and training whenever he can.