Every year, Monday sets the tone for Veterans attending the National Veterans Summer Sports Clinic. Whether it’s surfing, biking, or kayaking, they come together as teams for the first time to begin the week's journey.
On the beaches of La Jolla, the waves are crashing and there is excitement in the air as athletes strap on their gear, find an instructor and select a surfboard.
"Surfing isn’t so scary," remembers US Army Veteran Cathy Davis from Team Poseidon, who tried surfing for the first time last year. "It really is a lot of fun." Davis returns to the Clinic this year and is eagerly awaiting her chance to get back in the water.
Last year, another first-time surfer and US Army Veteran Andrew Chavez wasted no time getting into the cool water. Chavez 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 the 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."
By the time the afternoon rolls around, the Veteran/athletes will compete in the competition round. They earn points for each time they ride a wave all the way in without falling off the board. Some will receive more points than others, but the real victories are won by each athlete, like Andrew Chavez, who gains a newfound confidence with each wave they ride.
There’s a whole week of the 2011 National Veterans Summer Sports Clinic left and each team is ready to get off to a great start. And on the beach in La Jolla, when the surf’s up, nothing can get our Veterans down!
By Jordan D. Schupbach, Public Affairs Officer, Eastern Colorado Health Care System
Air Force Veteran