Injured soldier stirs emotions as he praises Park City |

Injured soldier stirs emotions as he praises Park City

by Jay Hamburger THE PARK RECORD

Roy Hogsett was a child during the Vietnam War era but old enough to still remember the way some Americans poorly treated soldiers who were returning from Southeast Asia.

Hogsett, a sergeant in the U.S. Army National Guard from Taos, N.M., has seen a much different reception for soldiers who have been stationed in combat zones during the short time he is staying in Park City.

Hogsett and a group of 30 to 40 other injured soldiers spent time in Park City in the last week as part of the Wounded Warrior program offered at the National Ability Center, a weeklong session that offers them a chance to rehabilitate through sports.

"Park City has been a very good place for us. The people here, they say ‘Hi.’ They talk to us," Hogsett said in an interview on Thursday night, shortly after an appearance in front of Mayor Dana Williams and the Park City Council.

Hogsett was stationed in Iraq for nine months starting midsummer 2009. A truck he was in went over a large bump that November, injuring his spine.

Hogsett delivered emotional remarks to the elected officials about the program offered at the National Ability Center. He also spoke about the differences between the Vietnam War era and today. He received a round of applause after his remarks.

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"The things that we get to see every day and take for granted was amazing to see through a soldier’s eyes," Williams said in an interview.

Hogsett said on Friday morning he was welcomed by people while he was on Main Street on Thursday night in uniform. People thanked him for his service, he said.

The not-for-profit National Ability Center, situated at Quinn’s Junction, has long provided sporting opportunities for the disabled and it remains a high-profile Park City-based organization.

Rena Webb, National Ability Center staffer who handles major fund raising for the organization, said between 30 and 40 injured soldiers participate in each weeklong session. The program was launched last September, and approximately 300 soldiers have participated since then.

"They get that sense of brotherhood again when they come back together," Webb said.

The families of the injured soldiers are also welcomed to the National Ability Center at the same time.

Some of the National Ability Center activities offered to the soldiers include the ropes course and the equestrian programs.

Webb said some of the injured soldiers arrive at the National Ability Center unhappy with their situation and fearing that they might not return to the activities they enjoyed before they were hurt. The sessions restore their confidence, she said.

"They’d been so active," she said. "They’d been a warrior."

In an interview afterward, the mayor said he met a few of the soldiers while visiting the National Ability Center on Wednesday. He invited them to appear at the City Council meeting. Williams said he was struck by Hogsett’s remarks on Thursday night.

"It was so emotional. I don’t think there was anyone in the room who had a dry eye," Williams said.