Purpose: Previous research has championed sport as a form of recovery for military veterans. Nevertheless, there is a lack of research on military veterans’ experiences of international sporting competitions. The aim of this study was to explore military veterans’ experiences of participation at the 2016 Invictus Games. Methods: Fifteen military veterans (10 male, 5 female) who participated in the 2016 Invictus Games were recruited. Semi-structured interviews were conducted to explore experiences pre, during, and post-competition, and analyzed using applied thematic analysis. Results: Three overarching themes were identified: Sources of motivation consisted of a range of veteran specific motives for getting involved with and continuing participation with the Games. Team and culture stressors encapsulated organizational demands related to the attitudes and behaviors of a sports team operating within the context of the Invictus Games. Impact of the games comprised veterans’ perceptions of positive and negative consequences of being involved with the Games. Conclusions: The study provides insight into the multitude of motives military veterans have for engaging in sport, whilst also demonstrating the novel organizational demands that veteran athletes encounter. The findings also offer preliminary insight regarding the impact of the Games and the potential for psychoeducation program implementation to support athletes post-Games.Implications for Rehabilitation The Invictus Games were created for military veterans to use the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation, and generate wider understanding and respect. Findings highlight that military veterans have unique motives to compete at the Invictus Games, including “reconnection with previously military life” and “being a role model”. Whilst veterans encounter team and culture organizational stressors while competing, they share similar post-Games experiences to full-time athletes, including the concept of “post-games blues”. Experiences shared by military veterans at the Invictus Games can aid in the promotion of sport as a viable form of recovery. Primary and secondary stress management strategies should be implemented with military veterans to reduce organizational stressors and their responses to them. Psychoeducation programmes should be introduced pre-Games to better prepare military veterans for their post-Games experience.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3552-3561
JournalDisability and Rehabilitation
Issue number24
Early online date20 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2021


  • Affect
  • competition
  • rehabilitation
  • sport
  • stress
  • well-being

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation


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