Army’s World Class Athlete Program celebrates unique talents, skills

Staff Sergeant Naomi Graham throws a right to the chin of Briana Che during a USA nationals bout in Salt Lake City, Utah. Graham rose through the ranks of USA Boxing after picking up the sport five years ago. She is a member of the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program and will compete in the Women’s Boxing 75kg during the Tokyo Olympics.

The U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program, or WCAP, is a military detachment run by the U.S. Army Installation Management Command. It was established in 1997 by the Army to support Public Law 84-11, which allows the Army to provide all Soldiers (Regular, Reserve and National Guard) an opportunity to perform at the international level while maintaining a professional military career.

WCAP members train and compete throughout the year – and aim to qualify for the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Soldiers must be nationally ranked in their chosen sport to be considered for the program. WCAP Soldiers balance athletic training with their military careers and are Soldiers first. They return to traditional military units upon completion of their WCAP assignment.

Since 1948, nearly 500 Army Soldiers have represented the United States at the Summer and Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games as athletes and coaches, winning gold, silver and bronze medals. The Soldier-athletes have earned more than 110 medals in a variety of sports including bobsled, track and field, boxing, wrestling and shooting.

WCAP Soldiers also conduct essential outreach activities. They hold clinics, speak to high school and college audiences, talk with athletic teams and make appearances in support of Army recruiting stations. They are a training asset to the larger Army, too, through Total Soldier Enhancement Training, which sends mobile training teams of WCAP Soldier-athletes to lead units through customized resilience and performance enhancement skills training.

WCAP is working with other services to become the lead agency for the Joint-Service Para-athlete Program, which provides wounded warriors with training and opportunities to qualify for the Paralympic Games. This program supports resiliency, providing the wounded warriors with the means to pursue new goals and dreams in spite of their battle injuries, inspiring other wounded warriors and the world with their accomplishments.

The WCAP reasserts how the Army values its Soldiers. This program provides a platform for the Soldier to celebrate their unique talents and skills. Soldier athletes represent the United States and the U.S. Army to the world. This program helps to reinforce the American public’s pride in the armed forces, while celebrating the Army’s most important asset, the people.

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