They were injured in the line of duty. Now these veterans are going for gold.

The second Invictus Games began in Orlando, Florida, on Sunday, May 8.

Founded by Prince Harry, the biennial event brings together active duty and veteran military service members with visible and invisible injuries to compete in 10 different sports.

The games debuted in London in 2014, and this year, more than 500 athletes from 15 different countries, along with thousands of fans and family members converged in Orlando at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex for the five-day event.


Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images for Invictus.

Check out these 18 incredible images from Orlando as the Invictus Games get underway.

1. The opening ceremonies were a beautiful celebration of courage and competition.


Photo by Tim Rooke/Getty Images.

2. There were presentations from the U.S. military, including the U.S. Silent Drill Platoon, which performs exercises in absolute silence to showcase the discipline and professionalism of the Marine Corps.

Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images for Invictus.

3. Invictus Games founder and veteran Prince Harry spoke to the crowd of athletes, families, and fans.

"I'm a long way from London tonight..." the prince said, "...but when I look out, I see so many familiar faces, servicemen and women, their friends and their families, and all of the people who got them here. I feel like I'm at home."

Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images for Invictus.

4. All 15 teams entered the arena to a roaring crowd.

And just like the Olympics, there are matching uniforms, flags, and fanfare for the occasion.

The team from the Netherlands enters the arena. Photo by Gregg Newton/AFP/Getty Images.

5. That's because in addition to veteran-athletes, the complex was filled with families, friends, and fans.

Will Reynolds, captain of the American Invictus Team, was joined by his wife and daughters.

Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images for Invictus.

6. But soon it was time to compete. Check out this fierce competitor's Wonder Woman prosthetic at a sitting volleyball match.

Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images for Invictus.

7. There was plenty of excitement in the air as Team USA entered the Field House to compete in the rowing finals.

Photo by Alex Menendez/ Getty Images for Invictus Games.

8. To allow the athletes to compete at their highest level, there are adaptations and modifications to some of the events and equipment.

Powerlifter Christine Gauthier of Canada uses a wheelchair for mobility, but while she competes, she is secured to the weight bench.

Photo by Scott Iskowitz/Getty Images for Invictus Games.

8. Cyclists prepare to speed down the course on hand bikes.

Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images for Invictus Games.

9. Archer Martin Clapton from the United Kingdom holds the arrow in his teeth while aiming at the target.

Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images for Invictus Games.

10. And these competitors put it all on the line during the indoor rowing finals.

Photo by Alex Menendez/ Getty Images for Invictus Games.

11. Family members and fans from around the world have converged on Orlando to celebrate their favorite heroes.

Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images for Invictus Games.

12. Even if they only get a glimpse of the competitors before they dash off.

Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images for Invictus Games.

13. There are 10 competitive events at the games, including sitting volleyball, indoor rowing, powerlifting, road cycling, track and field, swimming, wheelchair basketball, wheelchair rugby, and wheelchair tennis.

Photo by Scott Iskowitz/Getty Images for Invictus Games.

14. Each event requires some serious strength, along with hours of practice, dedication, and skill...

Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images for Invictus Games.

15. ...things these veterans and active duty service members have no shortage of.

Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images for Invictus Games.

16. For every point, win, or goal, the fans go wild!

Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images for Invictus Games.

17. Because at the end of the day, this is bigger than a sporting event.

Adaptive sports provide numerous benefits for veterans with disabilities, including decreased stress, increased independence, a reduced dependence on pain and depression medications, and even higher achievement in employment and education.

Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images for Invictus Games.

18. It's a celebration of teamwork, fortitude, and second chances.

Invictus is Latin for "unconquered," and these athletes are just that.

The games are only a few days long, but the impact they have on the competitors, families, and fans lasts much longer.

Nerys Pearce of Team Great Britain is presented with a silver medal in the powerlifting event by President George W. Bush, honorary chairman of the Invictus Games in Orlando. Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images for Invictus.

Events like these are a reminder of the resilience these veterans and their families possess.

Coming back from war with injuries and illnesses isn't easy, but opportunities to compete for and represent their home nations can be a light in the shadow of recovery for these athletes and their brothers and sisters in arms.

Photo by Alex Menendez/ Getty Images for Invictus Games.


True

When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

This article originally appeared on 12.02.19


Just imagine being an 11-year-old boy who's been shuffled through the foster care system. No forever home. No forever family. No idea where you'll be living or who will take care of you in the near future.

Then, a loving couple takes you under their care and chooses to love you forever.

What could one be more thankful for?

That's why when a fifth grader at Deerfield Elementary School in Cedar Hills, Utah was asked by his substitute teacher what he's thankful for this Thanksgiving, he said finally being adopted by his two dads.

via OD Action / Twitter

To the child's shock, the teacher replied, "that's nothing to be thankful for," and then went on a rant in front of 30 students saying that "two men living together is a sin" and "homosexuality is wrong."

While the boy sat there embarrassed, three girls in the class stood up for him by walking out of the room to tell the principal. Shortly after, the substitute was then escorted out of the building.

While on her way out she scolded the boy, saying it was his fault she was removed.

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One of the boy's parents-to-be is Louis van Amstel, is a former dancer on ABC's "Dancing with the Stars." "It's absolutely ridiculous and horrible what she did," he told The Salt Lake Tribune. "We were livid. It's 2019 and this is a public school."

The boy told his parents-to-be he didn't speak up in the classroom because their final adoption hearing is December 19 and he didn't want to do anything that would interfere.

He had already been through two failed adoptions and didn't want it to happen again.

via Loren Javier / Flickr

A spokesperson for the Alpine School District didn't go into detail about the situation but praised the students who spoke out.

"Fellow students saw a need, and they were able to offer support," David Stephenson said. "It's awesome what happened as far as those girls coming forward."

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He also said that "appropriate action has been taken" with the substitute teacher.

"We are concerned about any reports of inappropriate behavior and take these matters very seriously," Kelly Services, the school the contracts out substitute teachers for the district, said in a statement. "We conduct business based on the highest standards of integrity, quality, and professional excellence. We're looking into this situation."

After the incident made the news, the soon-to-be adoptive parents' home was covered in paper hearts that said, "We love you" and "We support you."

Religion is supposed to make us better people.

But what have here is clearly a situation where a woman's judgement about what is good and right was clouded by bigoted dogma. She was more bothered by the idea of two men loving each other than the act of pure love they committed when choosing to adopt a child.