"OK, ladies, Prince Harry is here. Don't act like you don't notice!" Obama said today prior to a wheelchair-basketball scrimmage.
Harry first said last summer in a video announcement that the 2016 games would be hosted by the United States, but his trip stateside and visit to Fort Belvoir, Virginia, this week officially launched the upcoming games, according to Kensington Palace.
The Paralympic-style sporting event, started in 2014, hopes to raise awareness for wounded service members.
“Returning to the U.K. after my first deployment, I shared the flight home with three critically injured British soldiers, all in induced comas, and the body of a Danish soldier, killed in action,” he said, referencing his 2005 Afghanistan deployment as part of the British Army.
“It hit me then that this flight was one of many, carrying home men and women whose lives would be changed forever, and some who had made the ultimate sacrifice. From that moment, I knew I had a responsibility to help all veterans, who had made huge personal sacrifices for their countries, to lead healthy and dignified lives after service.”
Prior to the scrimmage game, Harry, Obama and Vice President Joe Biden’s wife walked through art and music therapy rooms at the USO Warrior and Family Center, and were serenaded by active-duty Marines, who performed a prayer set to music.
The center helps veterans with physical and mental injuries following deployments. Mental health is one issue Harry specifically hopes to spotlight.
“The Invictus Games seeks to change perceptions of physical and mental injury,” Harry said. “One thing we have to talk about more is breaking down these barriers around so-called invisible injuries, like post-traumatic stress, just as we have for physical injuries like the loss of a limb.”
Harry and the first lady shared light-hearted competitive jabs at one another over the 2016 games, which will be held in Orlando, Florida. They sat together on the sidelines, cheering on both teams.
“I'd like to apologize for all the gold medals we will win in Orlando,” she said to laughs. And Harry challenging back: “You better bring it, USA!”
The 2016 Invictus Games will take place in May at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex.