Local Disabled Veterans Ski the Rocky Mountains
HOUSTON - Four disabled Veterans who receive treatment at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center will be among 400 other disabled Veterans from across the country to ski the Rocky Mountains at the 23rd National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic in Snowmass Village, March 29 – April 3, 2009.
The local Veterans attending this year include David Fowler, 48, an Army Veteran from Katy; Evo Marini, 63, an Air Force Veteran from Bailey Prairie; Al Perdew, 51, a Marine Veteran from Pasadena; and Steven Schulz, 24, a Marine Veteran from Friendswood.
The clinic, hosted by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and co-sponsored by the Disabled American Veterans (DAV), instructs Veterans with disabilities in adaptive Alpine and Nordic skiing and introduces them to a number of other adaptive recreational activities and sports. This year's clinic will feature a record number of participants, including many who served in the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“This is a really great thing to do,” said Schulz. “It’s lots of fun and it makes you feel good. I enjoy the speed of going down the mountain the most.”
The Clinic is an annual rehabilitation program open to U.S. military veterans with traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, orthopedic amputations, visual impairments, certain neurological problems, and other disabilities who receive care at a VA medical facility or military treatment center. It is the largest adaptive event of its kind in the world.
At the six-day event, Veterans also learn rock climbing, scuba diving, snowmobiling, curling and sled hockey. They can participate in additional events and workshops such as a course on self-defense offered by the U.S. Secret Service.
Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki said he will attend this year’s event and is “looking forward to celebrating the triumph of the human spirit over both physical adversity and fear of failure.” He believes the event and the volunteers who work with Veterans during it, “give so many young Veterans a glimpse of what is possible if they keep hope alive. I know of few greater gifts one can bestow on others.”
“Now, more than ever, we need events like the Winter Sports Clinic to challenge and inspire our wounded Veterans,” said DAV National Commander Raymond E. Dempsey. “The complexity of the injuries suffered by some of our newest disabled Veterans and the health issues facing our aging Veterans make necessary the most creative and engaging recreational rehabilitation.”
VA is a recognized leader in rehabilitative and recreational therapies, and operates more than 1,400 sites of care, including 153 medical centers. DAV is a non-profit, congressionally chartered Veterans Service Organization with a membership of more than one million wartime disabled Veterans.
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