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Veterans Health Administration

Veterans learn about sports...and themselves

A man with a prosthetic leg stands on a surfboard in the sand

 

A Veteran surfs for the first time

 

A woman clings to a rope on the side of a climbing wall

 

A man laughs while kayaking

 

A Veteran pushing with effort in a wheelchair race

 

Mentors prepare a Veteran for kayaking

 

A man throwing a javelin

 

The goal of the National Veterans Summer Sports Clinic is to let our nation’s heroes know that they can successfully adapt to their new lives after an injury, discover new interests and continue to participate in many activities they enjoyed in the past.

VA makes it possible for them to participate in activities that are exciting and fun.

First-time surfer and U.S. Army Veteran Andrew Chavez is a great example of how it works. Andrew wasted no time getting into the cool water at La Jolla, Calif. He was able to get up on his knees on the first try.

“We were on the beach watching.” said Steve Chavez, Andrew's brother and caregiver. “And my brother got up on his knees and just thrust his arms into the air. He fell down after that, but I was so happy for him. I'll never forget it.”

“Thanks to VA and the Summer Sports Clinic, my brother wants to do more surfing,” said Steve Chavez. “Last year was his first-time ever and he really enjoyed it.”

“The independence to just sail on your own is an incredible feeling.”

VA believes that healing the entire person is the most effective way to bring about positive change.

The Summer Sports Clinic offers adventure sports and recreational activities such as sailing, surfing, track and field events, kayaking and cycling (hand and tandem), to those who were recently injured.

VA is the leader in rehabilitation therapies available to the nation’s injured Veterans.

Rehabilitation events specifically designed for healing the entire person allow eligible Veterans to gain motivation to reach their full potential, improve their independence, achieve a healthier lifestyle and enjoy a higher quality of life.

The Summer Sports Clinic has great therapeutic value and encourages Vets to be active throughout the year. So much more than one-time surfing opportunities, the goal is to provide life-changing, year-round healing.

Surfing isn’t so scary,” remembers U.S. Army Veteran Cathy Davis from Team Poseidon, who tried surfing for the first time. “It really is a lot of fun.”

And on the beach in La Jolla, when the surf’s up, nothing can get our Veterans down.

A few Veterans took some unexpected plunges into the water during their first kayak ride. Sean Michaud, a Marine Corps Veteran from San Antonio, came up smiling and ready for more. “I decided to go for a little swim.”

“The independence to just sail on your own is an incredible feeling,” says Veteran Claudia Perry. “Being blind, you don’t get to drive, so this was just awesome!”

Read about Blair Reels Jr. who last rode a bicycle was when he was in college. That was before a car bomb hit his Humvee in Iraq. At the Summer Sports Clinic, Blair, an Army Veteran from Albany, N.Y., rode a bike for the first time in a very long time.

Complementing the therapy provided in daily rehabilitation programs, the Clinic shares a glimpse of the many exciting recreational opportunities awaiting those Veterans who accept the challenge.

With the variety of water and summer sports available at the Clinic, this week-long journey hosts Veterans from all over the country who have a variety of injuries, ranging from traumatic brain injury and polytrauma, to spinal cord injury or loss of limb.

Its fundamental purpose is to provide early intervention for Veterans battling back from injury, not only strengthening their bodies but overcoming and improving their overall being and self-worth.

The VA San Diego Healthcare System offers the Clinic a tremendous base of operation with its comprehensive medical and rehabilitative expertise, along with a perfect location for the event.