WASHINGTON – This week, more than 300 Veterans will hit the slopes at the 25th National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic, taking place this week in Snowmass Village, Colo., March 27 – April 1. The clinic provides newly injured Veterans, and those from years past, the opportunity to learn life changing skills through rehabilitative winter sporting events.
“The National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic challenges Veterans to move beyond their personal comfort zones and answer ‘What’s possible?’” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “These disabled Veterans inspire all of us both this week and the other 51 weeks of the year.”
Vice President Joe Biden, in a surprise appearance, stopped by the opening ceremony on Sunday to thank the Veterans for their service. He also visited with Veterans and volunteers on Sunday and Monday.
The clinic is an annual rehabilitation program open to all U.S. military Veterans with spinal cord injuries or disease, visual impairments, certain neurological conditions, orthopedic amputations or other disabilities, who receive care at any Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health care facility.
Jointly sponsored by VA and the Disabled American Veterans (DAV), the clinic is hosted each year by the Grand Junction, Colo., VA Medical Center and VA’s Rocky Mountain Network.
“The DAV is proud to partner with the VA to build on a quarter of a century of successfully bettering the lives of disabled Veterans through this clinic,” said DAV National Commander Wallace E. Tyson. “For the thousands of men and women who have accepted the challenges of this mountainside, a new window has opened on the possibilities of life after sickness and devastating injury."
During the six-day program, Veterans will learn adaptive Alpine and Nordic skiing and be introduced to a variety of other adaptive activities and sports, such as rock climbing, scuba diving, trap-shooting and sled hockey.
In addition to learning valuable lessons at the clinic, these Veteran athletes may become eligible to compete in some of the Nation’s premiere athletic events. Since 2005, VA has partnered with the U.S. Paralympics to introduce participants at the Winter Sports Clinic to Paralympic sports and to elite level training opportunities.Fresh from his first place finish in the 2011 World Cup Championships Super G event, Paralympian and past Winter Sports Clinic participant, Chris Devlin-Young will be on hand to share his experience and techniques with clinic participants, along with several other Paralympians who started out at the Winter Sports Clinic.
To train these Veteran athletes and meet their unique needs, 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.
The clinic is an extension of the rehabilitative care Veterans receive daily at VA medical centers across the country.
Video highlights and “stories from the mountain” will be posted each day of the event on www.wintersportsclinic.va.gov, and at the end of the week on VA’s Facebook and Twitter pages. Updates, photos and news releases about these events and participating Veterans will also be posted on the clinic web site throughout the week.
VA continues to be a recognized leader in rehabilitation, with recreational therapy programs at each of its 152 hospitals allowing disabled Veterans to challenge themselves both physically and emotionally. DAV, which has co-sponsored the event since 1991, is a nonprofit, congressionally chartered Veterans service organization, with a membership of more than one million disabled Veterans.
For further information, contact:Jose Llamas, VA public affairs coordinator, Winter Sports Clinic, at (703) 969-9238; or Rob Lewis, DAV communications, at (859) 442-2049. Or, log on to the event’s web site at: www.wintersportsclinigc.va.gov.
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