PASCO -- Every day is a struggle for Army National Guard Sgt. Tom Davis.
The 40-year-old Pasco man was injured in 2010 while training for deployment to Iraq, leaving him with debilitating chronic neck and arm pain.
He also has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, after being deployed to the Middle East during Desert Shield/Storm with the Marines.
"I was really hard to live with before my injury, and now we're coping with this, too," Davis said of the mental and physical challenges.
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But for eight days, Davis, his wife, Erica, 29, and five of their six children will play in Colorado snow and receive counseling.
The Davis family -- minus 19-month-old Ashton, who is staying home with family -- will be flying to Breckenridge, Colo., to participate in the fifth annual Wounded Warriors Family Ski Week from April 8-15.
"They're one of 11 families chosen for the program out of 100 applications this year," said Deb Spiers, one of the many volunteers who work on the nonprofit Wounded Warriors Family Ski Week Committee.
While in Colorado, the Davises will enjoy skiing and snowboarding, along with 10 other veterans and their families at the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center, which has a long history of teaching people with physical and mental challenges to ski.
"The whole idea is to get people down the mountain. To help them re-imagine what they are capable of. Of resetting what people perceive as their limitations," Spiers said.
Only Davis and his two eldest children, Michael, 19, and Jessica, 16, have any experience on the slopes. The rest of the family, including Erica, will spend time on the bunny hills.
"Derek, 11, is going to try snowboarding. Tommie, 10, and Jasmin, 6, are going to snow ski along with their mom," Davis said.
Part of the week also will be spent in counseling sessions.
"The whole focus is to become a stronger family unit. It's all about making us a better family," Davis said.
Before his injury in 2010, Davis said he was an aggressive skier.
"But I haven't been on the slopes since I was hurt, so I'm between excited and scared. I don't know how any jarring from going over bumps, or if I crash, will affect my neck. I'll likely take it slowly," he said.
Davis joined the Marine Corps in 1990, the year he graduated from River View High School in Finley, serving until his discharge in 1998.
He joined the Oregon Army National Guard in 2007 and was training for deployment to Iraq at Camp Shelby in Mississippi when he was injured.
"It was a training accident. I was in a Humvee that had been made into a rollover practice machine when my seat belt failed. I fell on my head, wearing all my gear," Davis said.
He didn't break any bones and didn't need to be admitted to the hospital, but the fall left Davis with two inoperable bulging disks in his neck.
"I can't wear a helmet or carry a rucksack. I'm not supposed to pick up anything more than 20 pounds, so I can't pick up my youngest son," he said. "If I'm too active, the discs swell and pinch the nerves to my arms. My right hand goes all pins and needles but my left arm, it hurts bad."
To combat the pain, Davis does a lot of physical therapy, uses a traction device at home and takes pain medication.
"I also see a lot of doctors," he said.
The Davis family will be flying out of Portland, courtesy of Southwest Airlines, which donates plane tickets for the vets and their families. Complimentary lodging will be at the Grand Timber Lodge in Breckenridge, and many restaurants in the town will offer them free or discounted meals.
"The rest of the money comes from donations," Spiers said.
Spiers said the committee would like to include more vets and their families but are limited by the number of ski instructors at Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center.
For more information, go to www.woundedwarriorsfamilyskiweek.org. Donations can be mailed to Wounded Warriors Family Adventures, P.O. Box 5318, Breckenridge, CO 80424.