Disabled Veterans Gather for Sports Clinic

Nearly 400 disabled veterans gathered in Snowmass Village, Colo., for the 27th-annual National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic. Co-sponsored by the Veterans Affairs Department and the Disabled American Veterans, the six-day clinic is the world’s largest and longest running disabled sports event, according to the Pentagon’s April 1 release. “We all know the importance of sports and the incredible results that they can play in not only healing our minds and bodies, but our spirits as well,” said Tommy Sowers, an Iraq war veteran and the VA’s assistant secretary for public and intergovernmental affairs, at the March 29 opening ceremony. The clinic is open to US military veterans, some of whom were wounded in Afghanistan and Iraq, who have disabilities ranging from spinal cord injuries and orthopedic amputations to visual impairment and neurological conditions. Participants learn adaptive alpine and Nordic skiing and are introduced to activities like rock climbing, scuba diving, trapshooting, snowmobiling, and kayaking. Sowers said these veterans inspire each other and set an example for others. The adaptive equipment and techniques pioneered at the clinic help others as well, he said. (AFPS report by Donna Miles)