Q&A: Warrior Games Athletes Unite and Connect at Walt Disney World 

2024 Department of Defense Warrior Games athlete Carly smiles in front of Cinderella Castle

With the 2024 Department of Defense Warrior Games in full swing at Walt Disney World, more than 200 athletes representing every branch of the United States military and Australia are hoping to bring home the gold in 11 different adaptive sports. Competing in just one of these sports is a feat in itself, but imagine playing in six!  

That’s just what United States Air Force Staff Sgt. Carly James is doing. Between her competitions, including swimming, track, indoor rowing, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby and sitting volleyball, we caught up with her to see what it’s like behind the scenes of this ultra-elite competition that has changed the lives of countless active duty and veteran military service members and their families through rehabilitation and recovery. 

Athletes on the court at the 2024 Department of Defense Warrior Games

Bringing Veterans Together 

Disney Parks Blog: Thank you for taking time out of your busy competition schedule to chat with us! What circumstances led you to the Warrior Games?  

Carly: I’ve been active my whole life but once I joined the military that sort of stopped. After getting diagnosed with PTSD, the Air Force Wounded Warrior program got me back into playing sports. A lot of people don’t understand invisible wounds, because they can’t see it. Once I came into this program, I realized I wasn’t alone and I’m not the only one. 

Disney Parks Blog: The Warrior Games unites athletes throughout the military like few other events, and it seems there’s a tight-knit community among all who are part of it. What does this mean to you? 

Carly: The Warrior Games program is important because it helps the wounded, injured and ill [active duty and veteran military service members] be a part of something again, not just rehabilitation and recovery, but making new connections. Sometimes it’s hard to explain, however, once we get together, we understand each other.  

2024 Department of Defense Warrior Games athletes watch the fireworks at Magic Kingdom Park

An Opportunity to Compete and Bond 

Disney Parks Blog: What’s the most significant moment from your time here at Disney World and during the event?  

Carly: My favorite memory overall every time I come to these events is spending time with other Warriors, making new connections and new friends and being able to compete alongside my teammates.  

Disney Parks Blog: What would you say to others who haven’t experienced Warrior Games?   

Carly: I want them to know that it gets loud, it gets crazy, but it is a very fun, supportive environment and you are going to have the best time in the world. 

Athletes on the court at the 2024 Department of Defense Warrior Games

Ready to see Carly and her fellow athletes compete? The Department of Defense Warrior Games are free and open to the public through June 30 at ESPN Wide World of Sports, or you can watch via livestream at DoDWarriorGames.com.