Rehabilitation Through Paralympic Sports


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As a former member of the U.S. National Amputee Hockey Team, and being one of only two disabled Veterans on the team, I know firsthand how important adaptive sports are to disabled Veterans. It’s not just about becoming an elite athlete–it’s about the entire rehab process, both professional and personally. I write to you encourage you to get involved–either as volunteer or as an athlete–and help our disabled Veterans rehab through adaptive sports.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and U.S. Paralympics, a division of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), announced the Olympic Opportunity Fund in 2010. The program provided $1.2 million in grants to community-based organizations to create and expand ongoing Paralympic sport and physical activity programs for disabled Veterans and disabled members of the Armed Forces.

Through this program, U.S. Paralympics and its partner organizations are collaborating to increase the number and quality of opportunities for physically or visually impaired Veterans to participate in physical activity within their home communities and in more advanced Paralympic sport programs at the regional and national levels.

These grants provide great opportunities for local VA organizations to form partnerships, ensuring that more Veterans with physical and visual disabilities have access to programs. This funding was legislated by Congress with the overall purpose to assist in the reintegration of Veterans into their communities. While VA organizations are not eligible to receive this funding, our participation and support are vital to getting Veterans to participate and ensure the program’s success. I encourage you to join together with a local organization of your choice and create a partnership with the community. A great resource for locating potential community partners is a new, online tool launched this week by U.S. Paralympics.

I’d like to emphasize that these grants are not just for programs associated with elite level athletes; these programs should focus on rehabilitation and giving Veterans opportunities to participate in sport, regardless of skill level.

On May 1st, U.S. Paralympics will announce the next phase of the Olympic Opportunity Fund, whereby the 2011 competitive grant funding details will be announced. Thank you for your support to our nation’s Veterans.


ChristophePhoto of Christopher J. Nowakr Nowak is the National Director of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Paralympic Program Office.

 

 

 

Author

Abby Bramski

Comments

  1. Anthony Campanella    

    Chris — Great story. I am a volunteer with the USA Warriors Ice Hockey Program in Laurel, MD. We are comprised of wounded and injured veterans and have both a sled hockey and an upright team (that includes three single amputees and a double amputee). Two of our alumni are now with the USA Paralympics National Development Team in Rochester. Because of folks being medically discharged from Bethesda and returning to their homes of record, we have a lot of turnover. We would love to partner to both recruit new players in the DC area and to place our alumni on other programs once they head home.

    All equipment and ice time is donated.

    Thanks again for all you do!

  2. cheetah print bedding    

    congrats on your new appointment

  3. Stuart Cohen    

    Chris,
    Congratulations on your new appointment. I know you will be extremely successful in developing the program. Let me know how I can assist?

    1. Aaron Moffett    

      Hi Chris,
      I’m trying to put together a calendar of events for the Navy Wounded Warrior team with whom I work. Will you please email me a copy of your calendar for the next 12-18 months or send me your contact information so I could contact you about your organization’s events. Thank you.

  4. David Van Sleet    

    Chris,
    Congratulations on your new position in Washington, DC. I hope you and the Department of Veterans Affairs take the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Paralympic Program to the highest level and the outcome results in world class athletes that the VA can be proud of.

  5. Dan LeBlanc    

    Chris, Congrats on the appointment VHA has made an outstanding decision with your appointment. Keep up the good work Marine and remember you’ve overcome numerous obstacles in your life and giving back is what we do. I am very proud of you and the fact that we shared time together at the begining of your career. All the best to you my friend much success SEMPER FI.

    Dan

  6. Jason Kahl    

    My problem with VA is that VA KNOWS WHO WE ARE! I see a lot of other than veterans being sent. That tells me VA is doing a really bad job of getting Veterans to go or getting Veterans informed in a timely manner. We need 6 months to a year to get resources together to go. Or in my case I have to run down everything…no one has lifted a finger to inform me that I even qualified for it…

  7. David Chandonnet    

    Chris, it is great to see you in this position. With your committment to fitness and your varied experiences with competitive sports on all levels (local, national, international, disabled, able-bodied, etc), in addition to your years of experience both being and working with disabled veterans, you bring a lot to this position. You are a great role model and source of inspiration for disabled athletes. I am a strong believer in the physical and psychological benefits that come from involvement in sports and recreation, speaking as a below knee amputee myself with a long history in disabled sports of all sorts. I support your efforts and look forward to following their progress.

  8. Bill Ferguson    

    Mr. Nowak,

    Not to bash you or your goals whatsoever,but seriously dude get a new job title. It screams made up government job, I think what your doing is important and I am 110% supportive so please allow me quickly to throw my two cents worth in.

    I think that the title of your office should expand its base rather than limit itself exclusively because of the name.I like the title National Director of the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs Paralympic Rehabilitative Office. So what you ask?It’s only a job title! I will tell you why, conservatives (I am a Republican) HATE the word PROGRAM. HATE HATE HATE… They assume it means “special rights”, “waste of money””prioritizing people”.etc..etc…Indeed you would think that this would beheartless and shameless.But do you think Tom Coburn or Jim DeMint even Rand Paul gives a crap about this program?As veterans we see the value whereas non veterans do not. Putting such a narrow title on your office in my opinion would be subject to more scrutiny for no warranted reason other than containing the word “program”.Coming from someone with Hill experience, I know it jumps out at GOP staffers in spending bills trust me.

    On another note much respect, don’t get discouraged I think people who turn lemons into lemonade like you bro set the example for us all. If you are in DC you have a standing offer of a cold one on me. Folks like you give me a little more faith in the Central Office. Wow!I am kind of actually impressed with the VA on this one. Good Job VA! (I never say that btw.)

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