Beginning March 7, 74 athletes will represent the United States at the Paralympic Games in Sochi—18 of them are military Veterans and Servicemembers.
“The first time that I sat in a mono-ski I found so much freedom. The ability to ski (though different) anywhere, anytime, without someone else’s help… for me to find that and get that back… it was able to help me both mentally and physically.” Heath Calhoun, Team USA 2014, Paralympic Alpine Skiing
Paralympic athletes have some of the most inspiring stories in sport, and the military Veterans among them have travelled especially arduous roads to Sochi. Their service led to life-altering injuries, and in their healing process these Veterans turned to sport for a renewed sense of freedom, independence, power and self. Today we often find ourselves looking to them as icons of inspiration, and shining examples of what the human body and mind are capable of, even after tremendous trauma.
Our team here at the VA is proud of the accomplishments of these Veterans, and we look forward to cheering them on as they compete in Sochi this month.
Many of these paralympians started their respective roads to Sochi by attending the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic co-sponsored by VA and Disabled American Veterans (DAV). Many organizations and programs are dedicated to improving the lives of Veterans, but few make as tangible an impact as the VA Adaptive Sports programs that help renew a sense of purpose and excitement for disabled Veterans across the country. Yet despite their substantive impact, adaptive sports are not widely known or understood in the mainstream. With this in mind, VA recently hosted a Google Hangout with three of the Veterans on Team USA to better understand how adaptive sports affected their lives, and to inspire other disabled Veterans to get involved and stay active.
If you know a disabled Veteran, please share this with them and encourage them to explore opportunities with adaptive sports programs in their area through the VA’s Adaptive Sports Club Finder located at www.va.gov/adaptivesports or contact the Adaptive Sports Office at (202) 632-6960.
And don’t forget to root for Team USA March 7-16!