WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- Every Wednesday evening in suburban Washington, a unique mix of military personnel bond over a favorite sport. The players come from all branches of the armed forces and an array of ranks, but on the ice, it is just hockey.
"It's an adrenaline rush," said Kevin Gatson, an unlikely hockey player. The Army veteran was born and raised in Mississippi.
"I used to consider myself an athlete. This gives me the chance to call myself an athlete again," said Gatson.
A former football player, he is now inspired by hockey -- the camaraderie, the challenge, just like the path he once walked in the military.
"Your team is everything. Who you wake up with, go to sleep with, you talk to all the time. These are your brothers," said Gatson, who competes in sled hockey and plays with his one remaining leg.
They are brothers in war and here, on ice. Brothers who have each other's backs.
"We have to train a lot like we did in the service, so whatever you do with your teammates is almost automatic," said Mark Adams, a Vietnam War veteran.
For these guys, hockey is not just a fast-paced, physical game. It's rehabilitation—for the injuries you can see and some that you cannot, like post-traumatic stress disorder.
"We help each other through that. Everybody can recognize that coming out in the other teammate. We don't ignore it," said Adams. "Help our teammates through it."
The sled and standing hockey players are all veterans and service members. Many have been honored with a Purple Heart.
"You have everything. You have officer, you have enlisted. You have Gulf War, you have Afghanistan, you have Iraq," said Charlie Hymen, a volunteer coach who played hockey for the United States Naval Academy. "At the same time, yes we know about everyone's experience, but out on the ice, it's just hockey and that's the beautiful thing about it."
In hockey and in life, the players focus on what they have and not on what they have lost.
For more information on USA Warriors hockey, check out their website:
There is also an online auction of hockey memorabilia to raise funds for the team. For more on that, go to: