People may remember Ashley Anderson, a Staff Sergeant in the United States Army from Winnebago, from when she competed in the Warrior Games last May.
Now, she has stepped up her game even more by being only one of 115 people chosen to compete in the recent Invictus Games that took place in Orlando, Florida May 8-12.
The Invictus Games are an international, multi-sport event in which wounded, injured or sick armed service members and their associated veterans take part in sports competition.
The Games were created by Britain’s Prince Harry in order to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation in wounded veterans, and generate a wider understanding for wounded, injured and sick service men and women.
Anderson, who graduated from Blue Earth Area High School in 2004, represented the United States in the international competition. Anderson competed in breast stroke swimming, shot put and discus events.
She won the silver medal for both the shot put and discus events for the Invictus Games. She even met Prince Harry himself after she was presented with her two silver medals.
“I am still in awe of that moment,” says Anderson. “I am so very blessed to have had such an amazing opportunity to meet Prince Harry and to compete in the Invictus Games.”
She also qualified for the top eight swimmers in breast stroke.
For Anderson, these competitions like the Invictus Games and the Warrior Games are not just a way to stay in shape and compete athletically. For her, it is an important step for recovery after coming home from active duty.
Staff Sergeant Anderson joined the Army Reserves in 2008 as a 31E, which is an internment/resettlement specialist. She was then deployed on her first tour in 2012 to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba with her second unit, the 339th MP Company from Davenport, Iowa.
Currently, Anderson is assigned to B Company, Warrior Transition Battalion in Fort Riley, Kansas.
Growing up, Anderson was very active in BEA?sports including basketball, track, volleyball and softball. During the summer, Anderson would spend her time teaching swimming lessons and lifeguarding.
“That’s where it all began,” said Anderson. “And when I came back from Cuba, I knew that was a great way to reach out to my fellow soldiers and help with not only my own recovery, but theirs as well.”
Anderson says she works hard to train when she is not competing. With the Warrior Transition Battalion, she has access to a swimming pool, discus and shot put equipment, as well as weights.
“I train as often as I possibly can,” she says. And, she does not plan to slow down her competitive spirit anytime soon.
She is already preparing for her next competition in just a few weeks the 2016 Warrior Games, which will take place in West Point, New York.
Anderson will compete from June 15-21, where she will demonstrate her field and swimming skills as well as her skills in sitting volleyball.
From growing up in Faribault County with her mom, Sheri, and brother Garret of Blue Earth and dad, David, and sister Keri Murphy from the Fairmont/Truman area, to being an international athlete, Anderson shares what she has learned with veterans around the world.
“Don’t be afraid to get help. There is so much help out there for veterans who are struggling in whatever way they may be struggling. It gives you confidence once you reach out for help, once you know someone understands you and is on your side. Don’t ever be afraid to ask for help,” says Anderson.