Over 1,000 severely disabled Veterans, therapists and volunteers will benefit from two grants totaling $940,717 from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to Disabled Sports USA (DSUSA). Programs will be conducted as part of DSUSA's Warfighter Sports program and Adapt2Achieve training and education program.
The Department of Veterans Affairs Grants for Adaptive Sports Programs provides funding to organizations to increase and enhance the quantity and quality of adaptive sport activities for disabled Veterans and wounded, ill, or injured members of the Armed Forces in their home communities. This VA program supports national sports governing bodies, Veterans service organizations, city and regional municipalities, and other community groups to provide a wide range of adaptive sports opportunities for eligible Veterans and service members.
Specifically, the first of these grants will provide free adaptive sports opportunities to severely disabled Veterans in more than thirty adaptive sports including alpine skiing, Nordic skiing, snowboarding, sled hockey, swimming, cycling, golf, paddle sports, climbing, surfing and more. These activities will occur across the country through 27 DSUSA local chapters in 19 states including Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming.
The second VA grant to DSUSA will elevate the quality and availability of adaptive sports programs across the U.S. through training for VA and Military therapists as well as instructors, coaches and volunteers. Programs include hands-on adaptive sports specific training, teaching employable skills to disabled Veterans and working with sports governing bodies to educate club coaches around the country. The potential impact of these programs will be to vastly improve access to adaptive sports for thousands of disabled Veterans and others with disabilities.
Last year alone, Warfighter Sports programs offered free adaptive sports to more than 1,600 disabled Veterans and their family members in more than 50 different sports. Disabled veterans like Retired Army Captain Matt Staton have benefitted from the Warfighter Sports program. Staton suffered from several gunshot wounds and from multiple IED exposures while deployed in Iraq. Through Disabled Sports USA, Staton has not only rediscovered the power of sports for himself, he is helping many others rebuild their lives through sports. "To be able to show my peers that even though I have had a catastrophic injury, there are things in life and that you can do through sports," he said. "So what if you have a disability, be known for your abilities."
"Thanks to the Department Of Veterans Affairs, thousands of disabled Veterans have experienced the healing power of adaptive sports" said Kirk Bauer, Executive Director of Disabled Sports USA and a disabled Vietnam Veteran. "This grant has helped disabled Veterans rebuild their lives through sports." A Harris Interactive research study of more than 1,000 adults with disabilities showed that disabled Veterans participating in Disabled Sports USA adaptive sports programs were significantly happier, healthier and more likely to be employed than those not participating in adaptive sports.
"Adaptive sports provides opportunities for Veterans, and empowers them to believe in themselves and let go of what others may see as limitations" said VA Secretary Dr. David J. Shulkin.
Disabled Sports USA is a national, charitable organization that provides opportunities for individuals with disabilities to develop independence, confidence and fitness through participation in sports. What began as a program to serve Vietnam veterans has since grown into one of the nation's largest multi-sport, multi-disability organizations, annually serving more than 60,000 wounded warriors, youth and adults with disabilities. A member of the U.S. Olympic Committee, Disabled Sports USA offers programs in more than 50 summer and winter sports through its nationwide network of 125 community-based chapters. For more information, visit disabledsportsusa.org
Warfighter Sports, a program of Disabled Sports USA, offers sports rehabilitation for wounded warriors with permanent physical disabilities in military hospitals and communities across the U.S. in partnership with a nationwide network of over 120 community-based chapters. Since 1967, Disabled Sports USA has proudly served wounded warriors, including those injured in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, offering over 50 winter and summer sports at more than 100 events each year. Warfighter Sports rebuilds lives through sports by improving self-confidence, promoting independence and uniting families through shared healthy activities. Contributions cover all expenses for participation of the warrior and a family member, including individualized adaptive instruction, adaptive sports equipment, transportation, lodging and meals. Since 2003, more than 12,000 of the most severely wounded and their families have been served, including those with amputations, traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, visual impairments, and significant nerve and muscle damage. For more information, visit disabledsportsusa.org/sports/warfighter-sports/
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