This Friday morning in June, the heat is already there, the atmosphere is joyful, laughter bursts here and there, around twenty soldiers and gendarmes take part in a biathlon event. Aged between 25 and 49, Stéphane, Eymeric, Morgan, Guillaume… all have in common that they have been physically or psychologically injured in the field, during missions in Afghanistan, Guyana or Mali, during Sentinel operations or even on the home-to-work journey. All suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They met for a week at the regional youth and sports center (CRJS) in Aubigny-sur-Nère (Cher), a vast green setting bordered by ponds, during the 11e edition of the Military Injury and Sports Meetings, organized by the Army Wounded Aid Cell (Cabat) since 2012, in coordination with the National Center for Defense Sports (CNSD), the Cercle Sportif de l’ National Invalids Institution (Csini) and other support units for the wounded from other armies. These meetings take place over four weeks, which makes it possible to accommodate around eighty injured people each year.
For this shooting and orienteering event, they work in teams, in pairs or in trios, and must go and find beacons around the lake during a race that they run, walk or cycle. Each test is adapted. During the shooting test, if they do not want to touch a weapon, they can use the blowgun. Here, there is no competition. “Smile and sweat, it’s won”launches the lieutenant, national referent in the accompaniment of the wounded of the National Gendarmerie, who like his colleagues, for security reasons, asked to be quoted only by his first name, Franck.
This is one of the many activities offered during the week: swimming pool diving, horse riding, archery, go-karting, wheelchair rugby, mountain biking. Present throughout the stay, the staff, from the doctors to the sports guides, including the logistics players, also take part in the sessions.
Guide to resocialization
“These meetings are an essential step in the life course of the injured soldier. They aim, through sport, to reconnect by creating a friendly and caring atmosphere to guide him towards resocialization.explains Isabelle, lieutenant-colonel, assistant to the head of the army’s wounded cell, who coordinates the meetings that week. “Sport makes it possible to convey the values of autonomy, of regaining self-confidence, of regaining a feeling of calm. Here, the questions of hierarchy, uniforms or ranks, significant in the military world, no longer exist to keep only the brotherhood of arms “continues Isabelle.
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