A primary goal of VA and the Disabled American Veterans charity is ensuring that Veterans receive world-class healthcare and rehabilitation.
The National Disabled Winter Sports Clinic complements those efforts by providing opportunities for self-development and challenge through sports and leisure activities. The clinic proves that having a disability need not be an obstacle to an active, rewarding life.
Co-sponsored by VA and DAV, the clinic attracts Veterans from across the country to participate in this annual learn-to-ski clinic for disabled Veterans. Being held this year April 3 through 8, the clinic is a world-leader in adaptive winter sports instruction for U.S. military Veterans and active duty servicemen and women with disabilities.
Set in stunning Snowmass, Colorado, the clinic celebrates its 30th year, bringing nearly 400 Veterans with traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, orthopedic amputations, visual impairments, certain neurological conditions, and other injuries to the mountain.
Veterans who currently have inpatient or outpatient status at a VA Medical facility have first priority.
Participation is open to male and female military service Veterans with qualifying disabilities such as spinal cord injuries, orthopedic amputation, visual impairments, certain neurological problems, and other disabilities.
Participating Veterans, seriously wounded while protecting our freedom, have an opportunity to pack more miracles into the weeklong, life-changing event than they ever dreamed possible. They are reminded of the wonder and achievement life still has to offer, despite their profound disabilities.
After conquering a snow covered mountainside, everyday challenges of life seem much more surmountable for these participants who’ve lost a limb or sight, or endure paralysis. Our Veterans draw inner strength from this experience of a lifetime and use it to overcome life’s challenges head-on when they return home. They also inspire those without disabilities to catch their spirit and go after their dreams.
Volunteers Provide Encouragement
A devoted force of volunteers and specialized ski instructors offer one-on-one instruction, untiring encouragement, and loyal friendship. This bonding and mentorship are critical to the therapeutic value of the clinic.
There’s also plenty to do when participants aren’t on the slopes, and it’s all challenging and fun. There are many activities to broaden the experience, including sled hockey, scuba diving, rock climbing, snowmobiling, self-defense techniques, and more. A variety of educational workshops and seminars are also offered, linking Veterans with resources, skills, and community ties that will enhance their lives beyond the event.
About the Author: Teresa Parks has been the Program Manager for the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic since 2003. She started her career with the Department of Veterans Affairs as a recreation therapist at the Knoxville VA Medical Center in 1993. Her first experience at the Winter Sports Clinic was as a Team Leader in 1998. Parks later began working for the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic full-time in 1999 as a special events coordinator.