He had always knew that if he was to join the army, it would have to be airborne troops. He was tempted by the elitism of Maroon Berets, and by parachute jumping. He was 21 when in 1996 he and his colleagues of the 16th Air Assault Battalion went to the IFOR Bosnia and Herzegovina 1st rotation. There he lost his leg after the explosion of anti-personnel mine.
The beginnings were hard: no job and no perspectives, difficulties in the access to medical and rehabilitation treatment. However, he never gave up. He started his studies at the Military University of Technology. He had been training boxing and running before he left for the mission, so these sports were the best therapy for him, and helped him to reconcile with his disability. He also went mountain hiking in Bieszczady and Beskidy, where he reached Turbacz, the highest peak in Gorce. “During the mountain expeditions we are like one family, we are not ashamed of our injuries, we have nothing to hide. We’re just talking, which is very therapeutic,” Jarosław says. He was also very much supported by his family. “A veteran must feel needed, not only as a former soldier, but also as a man,” he emphasizes.
He is open to new challenges. That is why, when asked to participate in Spitsbergen Arctic Expedition 2014, he did not hesitate even for a second. The preparation for the expedition mainly involved very intense physical trainings, and these were, for example, long-distance marches with full equipment. Wandering through Arctic ice, he proved himself that his disability does not have to be an obstacle in facing challenges, and the idea of rehabilitation through sport and recreation is one of the ways to regain mental health balance and improve physical condition of injured soldiers. “My participation in this expedition was to prove to other veterans that you just have to overcome your own weaknesses and always believe in yourself,” he says. For a year, he has been doing intensive swim training, and recently participated in the swimming marathon – which only several months ago seemed barely imaginable for him.
Today, he works in Warsaw Garrison Command as an OSH specialist. “I think veterans have become visible in our society. They are supported and respected, which I personally experienced on June 1, 2014, when – with my fellow veteran – we presented the Polish Championship Cup at Legia Warszawa football stadium applauded by over several dozen thousand people,” he says.
When asked why he decided to represent the Polish Armed Forces in the Invictus Games, he answers: “My participation in the games is part of my way of life, the goal of which is to stay fit as long as I can. It is also a strong motivation for systematic training.”
Health impairment: 85%
Missions: IFOR Bosnia and Herzegovina 1st rotation
Discipline: swimming, light athletics (shot-put and discus throw), indoor rowing, sitting volleyball
autor zdjęć: Michał Niwicz