Ted Kaufman - United States Senator for Delaware

Sen. Kaufman Recognizes Great Federal Employees, Jeremy Teela, Shauna Rohbock, and Heath Calhoun

February 2, 2010

   Next week, in Vancouver, the 21st Olympic winter games will begin amid great fanfare and high hopes. Every four years, the world's top athletes in skiing, skating, hockey, and several other winter sports compete to win medals and to win hearts.

   Olympic athletes push themselves to their limits not only to win personal or team glory but also to represent their nations on the world stage. A ticket to the Olympics is purchased with years of arduous training and a commitment to personal integrity and athletic fairness.

   The values of Olympians are those of perseverance, integrity, teamwork, and national service.

   If this list of values sounds so familiar to many Americans, this is because they are the same values that motivate those Federal employees who serve our Nation in civilian roles and in the military branches.

   This week, in honor of the upcoming winter games, I have chosen to highlight three incredible American Olympians. They share these values, and all three of them chose to serve our Nation in the U.S. Army.

   Jeremy Teela is an infantry sergeant. Originally from Anchorage, AK, Jeremy joined the Army in 1997. In addition to serving in the infantry, he participates in the Army's World Class Athlete Program. Jeremy is one of America's best in the sport of biathlon.

   Biathlon is a grueling race that begins with cross-country skiing and ends with precision rifle shooting. Jeremy is a seven-time national champion, and he was a member of the U.S. Olympic team in the 2002 Salt Lake games and the 2006 games in Torino. Jeremy will once again be competing in the biathlon at this year's games in Vancouver. Last year, at the 2009 Whistler World Cup, which took place at the same venue, he won a bronze medal--the first American to medal in biathlon in 17 years.

   Joining Jeremy in Vancouver will be SGT Shauna Rohbock of the Army National Guard. She is one of America's champion bobsled drivers. A native of Orem, UT, Shauna enlisted in 2000. Around that time, she began training in bobsled in the hopes of making it to the Olympics in Salt Lake City, just 40 miles from her hometown. While she didn't make it to those games, Shauna made it to Torino 4 years later. There, she won the silver medal in Women's bobsled.

   Comparing the teamwork required to succeed in the Army to the kind necessary in Olympic bobsledding, Shauna said recently: ``Just like any team or platoon, you're only as good as your weakest person. It takes two people to push the sled in a race. Bobsled drivers can't do this alone.'' This month Shauna will return to compete with Team USA in Vancouver.

   The Olympics are not the only games taking place in Vancouver this season. Following the Olympics will be the 2010 Paralympic winter games. There, the world's best athletes with physical disabilities will compete in several winter sports.

   Among those vying for a medal is retired Army SSG Heath Calhoun. Heath grew up in Bristol, TN, and joined the Army in 1999. In doing so, he followed a family tradition--his grandfather fought in World War II, and his father served in Vietnam. Heath trained at Fort Benning, GA, and was deployed to Iraq with the 101st Airborne Division.

   While on patrol in Iraq, his convoy was fired upon with a rocket-propelled grenade, and Heath lost both legs above the knee. After months of recovery at Walter Reed, he was losing hope that he would ever walk again. But with the help of the Wounded Warrior Project, Heath became an advocate for other soldier-amputees.

   Determined to regain his mobility, Heath began training with special prosthetic legs and computerized knees. Soon he was able not only to walk but also to run, golf, and drive an unmodified car.

   In 2008, Heath began training for the Vancouver Paralympic Games in the sport of adaptive skiing. He has been training in Aspen, CO, and won gold in last year's Super-G National Champions in Men's sit-ski. He will be headed to Vancouver in a few weeks to compete for medals there as well.

   All three of these inspirational soldiers are not only Army strong they are Olympic strong. The values that called them to the Army teamwork, perseverance, integrity, and service are the same ones that drive them toward Olympic glory. It is the same set of values that calls other Americans to serve in the Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard, and civilian careers in Federal Government.

   We have such talented citizens who are Federal employees, and whether they are Nobel laureates or Army sergeants, whether they work behind a desk or a spacesuit, they all share the common bond of having chosen--let me repeat that--chosen to give back to the country we all love.

   This is the case with all of the great Federal employees I have honored from this desk so far and for those whose stories I have not yet shared or will not be able to during my brief term.

   Shauna Rohbock put it best when she said: ``I feel it's a great honor to be able to represent my country as a soldier and an athlete.''

   All Federal employees, military and civilian, athletes and non-athletes alike, represent us well.

   I hope my colleagues will join me in saluting Jeremy Teela, Shauna Rohbock, and Heath Calhoun and offering them and their fellow American Olympians our support in the pursuit of victory in Vancouver.

Print this Page E-mail this Page