Veterans With Disabilities Rock Winter Sports Clinic

Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic

A veteran downhill skis at the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic.

In late March, veterans with disabilities faced a new challenge: enduring six days of intense training on the slopes of Snowmass, Colo.

The 26th National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic drew more than 350 participants to learn adaptive Alpine and Nordic skiing and sample adaptive activities and sports including rock climbing, scuba diving, trap shooting and sled hockey. The clinic has grown from nearly 100 participants in 1987, its inaugural year.

“The courage and commitment displayed by each veteran who confronts the challenge to learn new skills through this clinic is remarkable,” said Eric K. Shinseki, secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA), who spoke at the opening ceremony.

And learning new skills is what this clinic is all about. Participants come to the slopes to apply the hard work of rehabilitation to real-life situations. The hope is that skiing and outdoor recreation will help veterans heal, both physically and mentally. By presenting obstacles, participants learn that they have the ability to overcome many challenges.

"There's little wonder why this event is called 'Miracles on a Mountainside,' " said Disabled American Veterans (DAV) National Commander Donald Samuels. "The quality rehabilitation they receive as a result of this partnership can improve their quality of life and help them achieve substantial life goals to increase their independence."

Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic

Veterans prepare for a game of sled hockey at the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic.

Participants include veterans with traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, orthopedic amputations, visual impairments, certain neurological problems and other disabilities who receive care at a VA medical facility or military treatment center.

The event is cosponsored by VA and DAV, and several sponsors provided monetary support to cover expenses, including mobility equipment manufacturer Invacare Corp., which also had a volunteer team onsite.

An estimated 200 certified ski instructors for people with disabilities and several current and former members of the U.S. Disabled Ski Team served as instructors.

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Click here for more information on how to participate.