Veterans will have more opportunities to test and hone their physical prowess thanks to two new grants the Department of Veterans Affairs awarded this year to the U.S. Olympic Committee.
The grants, totaling $7.5 million, serve to increase recreation and sporting activities for current and former service members with disabilities. The funds will go to the Olympic Committee’s member organizations, Paralympic sports clubs and Veteran and military organizations nationwide to create community-based physical activity programs.
“Many of our Veterans have experienced traumatic injuries while at the peak of their physical conditioning,” Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki said. “Our partnership with the U.S. Olympic Committee will aid in their recovery by allowing them to engage in therapeutic sporting events and competition right in their own communities.”
The VA has tapped Veteran Christopher J. Nowak to lead its new Paralympics Program Office. Nowak—a former Marine who lost his right leg to friendly fire during a routine training exercise—previously served as prosthetics manager for VA Healthcare-VISN 4, a network covering Pennsylvania, Delaware and parts of West Virginia, New Jersey, New York and Ohio.
“Adaptive sports give Veterans confidence not only in athletics but also in personal aspects of their lives,” Nowak said. “Our goal is to have the Games athletes continue applying the skills they learn this week in their communities, through the VA Paralympic Program Office.”
Nowak will be here throughout the week to meet Veterans and discuss opportunities available to them.
A passionate champion of sports rehabilitation for wounded soldiers and Veterans, Nowak developed "First Swing" and "Next Step" golf clinics for amputees in VISN 4, and helped organize an annual football skills clinic that connects newly returned Veterans with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
To find adaptive sporting events in their communities, disabled Veterans can visit the U.S. Paralympics website: www.usparalympics.org.
Anthony Hardman, Public Affairs Specialist