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Winter Sports — The VA Way

A Veteran and his physical therapist cross country skiing on a mountain

Kevin Beus and physical therapist Emily Potter cross country ski, a sport he thought he would never enjoy again.

by Hans Petersen, VA staff writer
Monday, April 1, 2013

“It’s something I know I can do!”

Navy Veteran Kevin Beus had been a cross country skier for most of his life, but after he lost his eyesight two years ago, he didn’t think he could do it anymore. The National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic changed that.

Read his story along with an inspiring footnote by his recreation therapist Emily Potter. Today, Kevin says, “I’m looking forward to the Winter Sports Clinic this year because it’s something I know I can do.”

The National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic — March 31 to April 5 — provides world-leading adaptive winter sports instruction for U.S. military Veterans and active duty servicemen and women with disabilities.

Set in stunning Snowmass, Colo., the Clinic will celebrate its 27th year by bringing nearly 400 Veterans with traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, orthopedic amputations, visual impairments, certain neurological conditions, and other disabilities to the mountain.

 The…clinic…motivates Veterans to get active throughout the year. 

More than 200 certified ski instructors for the disabled, and several current and former members of the U.S. Disabled Ski Team, serve as ski instructors to meet the unique needs of the participants.

In addition to Alpine skiing, the Clinic also features a number of other sports including: cross country skiing, rock climbing, scuba diving, kayaking, trapshooting, and snowmobiling.

The Clinic is co-sponsored by the Department of Veterans Affairs and Disabled American Veterans and is made possible by a number of sponsors who make monetary and in-kind donations.

A Veteran on a ski sled is being pushed by another man on a mountain.

VA’s National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic brings nearly 400 disabled Vets to the mountain.

Benefits of Adaptive Sports

Recent studies indicate that disabled Veterans who participate in adaptive sports report benefits such as:

  • less stress
  • reduced dependency on pain and depression medication
  • fewer secondary medical conditions (e.g., diabetes, hypertension)
  • higher achievement in education and employment
  • more independence
Veterans playing ice hockey on special sleds.

Veterans play a game of sled hockey at the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic, the worlds’ largest learn to ski, adaptive winter sports rehabilitative event for U.S. military service Veterans.

Find an Adaptive Sports Club in Your Community

According to Chris Nowak, “The greatest thing about the Winter Sports Clinic is that it motivates and encourages Veterans to get active throughout the year. They learn a skill here, and then we make the connections for them back at their communities so that they can continue to be active and move forward in their therapy through adaptive sports.” Nowak is VA’s Director of National Veterans Sports Programs and Special Events.

One of the great features of VA’s Adaptive Sports website is the Sports Club Finder which connects you with community-based programs. It includes links to Paralympic Sports Clubs that have been developed to provide sports programming and physical activity opportunities for disabled Veterans along with youth and adults with disabilities, regardless of skill level. All programs and activities at these organizations are based in the community and are run by the local organization.