The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), in accordance with Public Law 110-389, is awarding two grants totaling $7.5 million to the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) to plan, manage, and implement an adaptive sports program for disabled veterans and disabled members of the Armed Forces.
“Many of our veterans have experienced traumatic injuries while at the peak of their physical conditioning,” said VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki in a press release. “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.”
Under terms of the grant agreements, funding will be provided to the USOC’s member organizations, Paralympic sports clubs, and veteran and military organizations nationwide to enhance and implement community-based, recreation and sporting-activity programs for disabled veterans and disabled members of the Armed Forces. Disabled veterans can locate adaptive sporting events in their communities by visiting the U.S. Paralympics website at www.usparalympics.org
“This support from Veterans Affairs will have far-reaching impact in communities around the country,” Chief of Paralympics, USOC, Charlie Huebner, said. “We know that sports and physical activity can have a transformative effect on those with a physical disability… These funds will help our community partners to expand and provide greater access to sports programs for injured veterans, disabled members of the Armed Forces, and all living in their local area with a physical disability,” Huebner added.
Christopher J. Nowak, a prosthetics manager for VA Healthcare Veterans Integrated Service Network 4, has been selected to direct the VA Paralympics Program Office. Nowak was an infantry squad leader in the U.S. Marine Corps when he had his right lower leg amputated in 1987, due to friendly fire during a routine training exercise. He has developed and co-chaired “First Swing: and “Next Step” golf clinics for amputee veterans and is a former member of the U.S. Amputee Hockey Team.