Game Changer
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Game Changer

November 15, 2019 | 4 min. read

First Command Financial Advisor Drew Vasquez played a major role behind the scenes of the 2019 Warrior Games.

The Department of Defense (DoD) Warrior Games is an annual event in which wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans from the different military branches and other countries around the world gather to compete in Olympic-style games. The warriors have suffered spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, visual impairment, post-traumatic stress, loss of limb and other injuries while serving their country. Undeterred, they compete head-to-head in sports that include archery, cycling, shooting, sitting volleyball, swimming, track, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby, powerlifting and several other sports.

This year’s DoD Warrior Games was bigger than ever, breaking previous records by having the most athletes, the most visiting teams, the most featured sports and the biggest public turnout. Hosted by U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) over the summer in Tampa, Florida, thousands showed up to support the warriors during the games’ 10-day span. This enormous event took a lot of financial planning and budgeting — a job that Drew Vasquez, First Command Financial Advisor and Air Force reservist, took the lead on.

“The CFO at SOCOM headquarters gave me a call, because I had worked for him back when I was active duty,” Vasquez said. “He said he had a really cool opportunity for me and asked what I thought about coming on active duty for seven months to be the head money guy for all the Warrior Games for the year.”

Vasquez came very close to declining. He was doing well with his business and didn’t know if he would be able to handle working the games while still being available to clients. In the end, he decided the temporary juggling act might be beneficial to all parties.

“After five or six years as an advisor, you can get in too much of a comfort zone,” Vasquez said. “Taking on the Warrior Games gave me a refresh and allowed me the opportunity to bring more passion back to First Command.”

Vasquez is no stranger to juggling his time. As a husband and father to three daughters, when he is not meeting with clients or working in the reserves, he’s attending t-ball practice and dance recitals. So when Vasquez got the call to be the comptroller for the Warrior Games, he knew he’d be able to manage the balancing act with his work team and family supporting him. It wasn’t without difficulty, but it was worth it in the end.

“After a full duty day on base working for the Warrior Games, I’d go to the office and meet with clients after hours,” Vasquez said. “I wasn’t able to continue in the capacity I normally would when working full time, but I still wanted to have a consistent presence for clients. It was difficult to balance everything, but I was still able to meet my goals with the support of the company and my team. I learned a lot.”

Vasquez said it was amazing to see different groups and organizations come together to support the Warrior Games. For example, Operation BBQ Relief, a nonprofit that provides food during natural disasters and other events for displaced residents and emergency personnel, fed the athletes and their families throughout the duration of the event.

“This event is all about helping the warriors understand they are still part of a team and part of something bigger than themselves. It gives them motivation to stay healthy and a goal to strive for,” Vasquez said. “We pour a lot of time, money, energy and resources into creating an event they can walk away from feeling proud of. It gives these military members who sacrificed so much for our country something to show off and be proud of beyond their service, and it shows that they are still achieving and exceling.”

Vasquez said that although the games are for the athletes, the volunteers get just as much out of it as the warriors. Some of his favorite moments during the events were when the athletes came up to him, shook his hand and thanked him for helping. Knowing all they sacrificed to protect their country, Vasquez said he felt humbled by their appreciation.

 “I encourage everyone to take advantage of the opportunity to get involved,” Vasquez said. “These great men and women suffered from unfortunate injuries and setbacks in their military career and now they’re in a recovery or rehab situation, but the more people who get involved to lend a hand or give a smile or even just be in the stands clapping and cheering them on, not only do I feel like it’ll change your life as a volunteer, but it also makes them feel very encouraged. And having the stands full of people cheering them on makes the warriors feel uplifted, loved and supported. That’s what the Warrior Games are all about.”

San Antonio, Texas residences will get the next opportunity to join in on the fun when the Warrior Games comes to Alamo city in September 2020. For more information about the Warrior Games, visit dodwarriorgames.com.

First Command is not affiliated with the Warrior games. 

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