April 2, 2014, WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced today that more than 400 disabled Veterans are hitting the slopes this week at the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic in Snowmass Village, Colo., the largest adaptive sports event of its kind in the world, scheduled from through April 4.
“This Clinic is an excellent example of how VA uses a holistic healthcare model to provide every Veteran with physical and mental treatment options that work for them,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “Through sports and other forms of recreational therapy, we can greatly improve the quality of life for many of our Nation’s Veterans.”
Last month, 18 military Veteran Paralympic athletes competed at the 2014 Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia. Many of these athletes received their first exposure to winter sports at this VA Clinic. Since 2005, VA has had a partnership with the U.S. Paralympics that establishes VA’s Winter Sports Clinic as a pipeline to provide participants to American Paralympic teams engaged in national and international competition.
The Winter Sports Clinic, which is sponsored by VA and Disabled American Veterans (DAV), teaches Veterans with disabilities about adaptive Alpine and Nordic skiing. It also introduces them to a number of other adaptive recreational activities and sports.
Now in its 28th year, the Clinic is an annual rehabilitation program open to U.S. military Veterans with traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, orthopedic amputations, visual impairments, certain neurological problems and other disabilities, who receive care at a VA medical facility or military treatment center.
To meet the unique needs of participants, an estimated 200 certified ski instructors for the disabled and several current and former members of the U.S. Disabled Ski Team will serve as instructors.
“This is a chance for some of our most profoundly injured heroes to challenge themselves beyond their perceived limitations,” said DAV National Commander Joseph Johnston. “It’s the biggest and most comprehensive event of its kind. There were 18 Veterans who competed in Sochi at this year’s Winter Paralympic Games who got their start at this event and everyone who participates is forever changed by the experience.”
At the six-day event, Veterans also learn rock climbing, scuba diving, snowmobiling, curling, sled hockey and self-defense taught by the U.S. Secret Service.
VA is a recognized leader in rehabilitative and recreational therapies, and operates more than 1,700 points of care, including 151 medical centers. DAV is a non-profit, congressionally chartered Veterans service organization with 52 state-level Departments, 1,355 active Nationwide Chapters and membership of more than one million disabled Veterans.
Learn more about VA’s adaptive sports programs and partnerships at www.va.gov/adaptivesports.