The day broke with blue skies and warm gusts of wind, but mid-afternoon, brought scattered rain, a darkened sky and bitter sweeping drafts that would send most people packing, but not the Veterans and volunteers participating in VA’s Summer Sports Clinic, which wrapped up last week in San Diego.
Despite the cold wind and gray skies, the participants remained all smiles, as they reached day four of sporting events that teach resilience, coordination, dexterity and grit. Despite the weather an aura of satisfaction and confidence could be felt at the various sports fields and beaches.
Veteran’s spirits were skyrocketing, along with the hundreds of staff and volunteers that have come out to support them. One would only need to visit and observe from a distance to realize that the Summer Sports Clinic attracts a different caliber of character. After several days of volunteering, one might expect that the number of volunteers would wane or they might not be as enthusiastic. But that’s just not the case.
When speaking with a group of young volunteers that assisted the surfing clinic and asked about why they came out, they said “it’s what we do. It’s what we love.”
There was an entire group of young women that came out to volunteer on behalf of the Surf Divas, the first all-girls surf school. They used their powerful set of skills to teach and inspire.
The surprising attribute about many of the volunteers is that they come from all ages, from all over the United States and they came to support Veterans because they have one thing in common; the love of their sport and sharing their learned skills.
Without volunteers, events like the sports clinic couldn’t happen. The volunteers are the force behind the force and they do what they do, working long hours in tiring shifts. The volunteers said it’s all worth it when at the end of the day, they see a Veteran tackle an obstacle they never thought they could, finding courage because a helping hand is right there to catch them.
Sarah Jane Phillips is a public affairs specialist serving in VA’s Los Angeles office.