BY MAURA GLADYS

April 30 signals the start of the third annual Warrior Games presented by Deloitte. While it may not be well-known to the general public, it’s one of the biggest events on the Paralympic calendar. Here’s a primer on what the Games are all about and why you should tune in.

What it is ...

Started in 2009, the Warrior Games are an Olympic-style competition between wounded, ill and injured military members and veterans from the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard and Special Operations Command. Teams will compete for medals in track and field, shooting, swimming, cycling, archery, wheelchair basketball and sitting volleyball, which will then go toward a point system that determines the winning branch -- and that branch will be awarded the Chairman’s Cup. For the 2012 Games, more than 200 service members and veterans with injuries and illnesses, ranging from post-traumatic stress disorder to quadriplegia, will represent their respective military branches.

Star appeal ...

First Lady Michelle Obama will be providing opening remarks at the Opening Ceremony on Monday, adding extra energy to the proceedings. The Warrior Games presented by Deloitte are a pairing of two of the First Lady’s most important initiatives: supporting veterans and encouraging an active lifestyle through her “Let’s Move” campaign. Additionally, the flag-bearers for the event are First Lieutenant (Ret.) Melissa Stockwell of the U.S. Army and Captain Simon Maxwell of the Royal Marines. Stockwell was the first female injured in Iraq and went on to represent the United States at the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing. Captain Maxwell is a member of the British Armed Forces team that will be competing.

Guests from across the pond ...

For the first time ever, the Warrior Games presented by Deloitte will welcome a contingent of British soldiers who will compete as guest athletes. The roster of 18 will participate in archery, cycling, swimming, track and field, sitting volleyball.

More than medals ...

At every Olympic-style competition, there’s the recognition that it’s about more than just the games and the medals. This rings especially true for the Warrior Games presented by Deloitte. The Games are just a small part of a comprehensive program that aids service members and veterans in their recovery and transition that targets not just the physical but the mental, emotional, social and spiritual aspects of their lives.

A medal isn’t just a medal, but a significant step toward helping wounded soldiers and veterans gain some measure of peace and inspiration going forward. It’s not so much about the results as the growth and progress that is accomplished, physically, mentally and emotionally through those results.