Previously known as Veteran Sport Australia

Joel 
Vanderzwan

Veteran and Invictus Games competitor 


overview

In 2007 at the age of 17, Joel joined the Royal Australian Navy. As an Able Seaman Marine Technician, Joel spent a lot of time off Darwin on border patrol, his career highlight being his work on HMAS Kanimbla during the Rim of the Pacific Exercise off the coast of Hawaii in 2010. With fond memories of driving around Hawaii and discovering amazing surfing spots at Honolulu Bay, Joel’s military career was not only professionally rewarding but provided him with camaraderie, mateship and incredible life experiences.  

challenge

In 2012, life for Joel suddenly changed when he was involved in a motorcycle accident resulting in T6 complete paraplegia. Joel spent 11 months in rehabilitation and used his competitive spirit to regain life skills while going through rehab. 

“Sport for rehabilitation is integral not only for your physical health but for your mental wellbeing. Sport has been a big part of my life, so after my injury, it made sense to adapt and use sporting goals to help achieve rehabilitation goals. Sport is the foundation on which many of us rebuild our purpose in life after injury.” 

Joel Vanderzwan
Veteran and Invictus Games competitor 

journey

Sport for rehabilitation has been integral for Joel’s physical health and mental wellbeing. A big part of his life before the injury, it made sense for Joel to use sporting goals to help him achieve his rehabilitation goals. Sport has ultimately been the foundation of rebuilding his sense of purpose in life after injury. 

It was just over two years ago that Joel started working for the social impact tech training organisation WithYouWithMe (WYWM). WYWM helps military veterans and their families discover their potential, trains them in IT and emerging technology and helps transition them into the right career the first time. They also provide continuous opportunities for growth to master their craft.  

Impact

Joel’s recently moved on to continue his career with international consulting firm Deloitte, as a Technology Enablement Business Analyst. He and his team use technology to help companies improve and make business practices more efficient.  

Having been selected for the Australian Invictus Games team – competing at a rescheduled Games in 2022 – Joel is having to manage career ambitions with sporting commitments. Having to spend some time away from the office recently in preparation for the Invictus Games hasn’t been a problem for Deloitte who have been supportive. 

Joel will be competing in archery, wheelchair basketball, indoor rowing and wheelchair rugby at the Invictus Games when the rescheduled event happens in the Hague. Joel enjoys each of the sports that he’ll be competing in for different reasons but admits that he’s especially looking forward to competing in archery.  

For Joel, The Invictus Games is about much more than just sport; it’s a celebration of everyone’s journeys.

“I applied for the Invictus Games to test myself and set an example that rehabilitation and reintegration into society never stops. It requires constant work to be able to adapt and achieve your goals.” 


“My greatest achievement is being able to leverage my injury to rebuild myself and motivate others to enjoy what they have in life.” 

Joel Vanderzwan
Veteran and Invictus Games competitor 


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