SAN DIEGO -- Wounded veterans from around the United States recently took part in the week-long National Veterans Summer Sports Clinic in San Diego.
The clinic is one of six such events the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hosts every year to promote mind and body rehabilitation among wounded warriors.
For the clinic, veterans were put into 10 teams and offered expert instruction in all of the events, which included surfing, kayaking, cycling, sailing and field sports.
“The expectations of this program are to show the veterans that there is a whole life out there beyond the hospital or their homes,” Tammy Duckworth, assistant secretary of Veteran’s Affairs for public and intergovernmental affairs, told military reporters. “And that there are many opportunities for them to participate and have as full a life as possible, but it's also just about letting them have fun. They certainly have earned it.”
The clinic was open to veterans with orthopedic amputations, traumatic brain injuries, burn injuries, psychological trauma, certain neurological conditions, visual impairment, spinal cord injuries and other eligible injuries that were received during the past six years.
Of the 65 veterans who participated, seven were women. The VA recognizes that a growing number of the veterans it serves are women and it is working to be sure they receive the care they have earned serving their country, says Lawrence Deyton, MD, chief public health and environmental hazards officer for the VA’s Veterans Health Administration. More than 450,000 of the 1.8 million women veterans in the United States have enrolled for care at the VA, Deyton told military reporters.
For instance, Melissa Trotter, a former truck driver with the Army’s 454th Transportation Company, based in Columbus, OH, was medically retired after her tibia was shattered when a tank hit her truck in Baghdad, Iraq. She participated at the clinic’s cycling event using a hand cycle.
“I am a single mother of two. When I got hurt, I had to depend on my children for help more than I ever wanted to,” Trotter told military reporters. “Now, because of this clinic, I know there is a way I can actually go cycling with my daughter. It will be nice to be able to do that with her.”