Hector Varela served in the U.S. Navy as a Chief Gunners Mate. He suffered a traumatic head injury and amputation during his service. He has played wheelchair basketball with the NWBA for over five years on the NMCSD Wolf Pack.
Q: When did you join the service?
A: I joined in 1988. I went to boot camp with the U.S. Navy. I was in the service for 24 years and retired November of 2012.
Q: Why did you join the service?
A: I grew up in a small town, a farm town. We did not have a lot going on there of interest to me. At that point I wanted to travel the world and I talked to Navy recruiters and they told me I could travel the world and get paid to do it. So that is what I did.
Q: Why did you leave the service?
A: When I left I was getting ready to retire. I was getting to the maximum years I could serve at the time. Three months prior to retire I got injured. That is how I ended up here.
Q: Do you mind telling me about your injury?
A: It was a motorcycle accident. I got hit on the side by a truck.
Q: How did you find wheelchair basketball?
A: So at the hospital at the medical center in San Diego, the rec therapist there reached out and told me “Hey come on. Just shoot around and sit in a chair.” From there a couple of guys decided to go ahead and make it official. So we put a team together and started competing in the NWBA.
Q: What impact has wheelchair basketball had on your life?
A: It has allowed me to continue to be in a team environment with the military itself, the team environment, the team building. I can get with a bunch of guys from different branches of the service and finding that you need interest in team sports. We all like basketball. We all play on the weekends, some in college or high school, then after the military and everyone got injured we decided this would be something good for us.
Thank you Veterans
The NWBA would like to thank all Veterans for their service. We appreciate our Veteran members telling their stories and for becoming involved in our sport, regardless of their story.