Prince Harry gives royal push for Invictus Games for troops

Fort Belvoir: Britain’s Prince Harry threw down a friendly challenge to US athletes today as he promoted next year’s Invictus Games for wounded service members: “You better bring it, USA,” he told troops and veterans at a Virginia military base.

The prince was accompanied by Michelle Obama and Jill Biden, the wives of the US president and vice president.

He high-fived two rows of wheelchair basketball players at Ft. Belvoir before making remarks that gave a royal seal of approval to programs that help injured service members recover from the physical and emotional wounds of war.

Harry, who served two tours in Afghanistan, recalled seeing the brutal injuries suffered by fellow service members, and said that’s when he found his mission to help injured veterans “lead healthy and dignified lives after service.”

During his stop at the base’s USO Warrior and Family Center, the prince also visited art and music therapy rooms. He admired an Uncle Sam mural painted by one former service member and tapped his toes to the jazzy strains coming from a drums-and-keyboard duo of US Marines as he joked, “If I played an instrument, I’d join the band.”

Singer and keyboard player Lt. Col. Shane Tomko of Illinois credited the music therapy program with helping save his life.

Harry, Obama and Biden sat courtside to check out a wheelchair basketball game, the three of them clapping and cheering for both teams. The trio and the crowd applauded as a female player who toppled out of her wheelchair was helped up by other players.

It was all part of Harry’s full-court effort to promote the Invictus games, an international sporting competition for injured armed service personnel. Harry spearheaded the first games, in London last year.