Along with an unwavering commitment to our country, one of the things that attracts so many men and women to the U.S. Armed Forces is the camaraderie that comes with it. When a soldier is in a situation where he or she has to rely on others as much as they have to rely on him or her, some deep and meaningful relationships develop.
But, when a soldier is discharged and sent home from the field because they suffered a disabling injury, it can be all too easy for the veteran to get depressed because the camaraderie they loved so much is suddenly missing. Thankfully, there are some organizations that are dedicated to helping disabled veterans reconnect with their brothers and sisters through sports.
If you or someone you know is a disabled veteran, then these six organizations can help you become part of a team again.
Veterans Adaptive Sports is an organization that serves veterans with spinal cord injuries, orthopedic amputations, visual impairments, and neurological injuries. Disabled veterans undergo rehabilitation for their injuries through a variety of different adaptive sports, such as golfing, SCUBA diving, biking, skiing, and more.
Paralyzed Veterans of America provides lacrosse clinics for veterans suffering from spinal cord injuries and other injuries or disorders. The organization has a partnership with Wheelchair Lacrosse USA. Traditional lacrosse rules are followed, but the game is played on a hockey rink with a no-bounce ball. Abled body veterans are also welcome to play, but they will have to play in a wheelchair.
Paralyzed Veterans of America also provides disabled veterans with the opportunity to play wheelchair basketball, softball, quad rugby, handcycling, and other traditional sports. For competitive, high-speed sports, this organization is one of the best.
Paralyzed Veterans of America provides disabled veterans with the opportunity to play a variety of competitive, high-speed sports.
Vermont Adaptive Ski & Sports offers a variety of programs specifically designed for injured service members, disabled, and their families, who live in Vermont. At Vermont Adaptive, veterans with physical disabilities and/or invisible disabilities like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and brain injuries are accommodated.
Vermont Adaptive is also a frequent participant in the Wounded Warrior Disabled Sports Project, and programs and projects provided through Disabled Sports USA, the US Paralympics, and the United States Association of Blind Athletes.
Higher Ground’s military programs are designed to help injured service members gain the physical skills, confidence, and coping strategies necessary for reintegrating into their families and communities. Therapies and sports programs are available for injured active duty and disabled veterans diagnosed with Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs), Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and other polytrauma. Some of the programs offered include Snow Sports, Rafting, Water Sports, and Fly Fishing.
Disabled Sports USA has a free program called Warfighter Sports that is specially designed for wounded warriors and their families. Warfighter Sports is a multi-sport program that currently offers 50 different adaptive sports for disabled veterans and wounded active duty members to choose from. In 2017, Warfighter Sports supported more than 1,500 wounded warriors!
The Inland Northwest Disabled Veterans Sports Association was created by a team of disabled veterans with the purpose of helping other disabled vets enjoy a more active and engaged lifestyle. The Association even helps disabled athletes enter some of the top events in the country, including the National Veterans Wheelchair Games, the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic, and the National Veterans Golden Age Games.
Find a Disabled Veteran Sporting Organization Near You
Getting back out there and joining a team isn’t always the easiest thing for a disabled veteran to do. But, once you hurdle the initial obstacle, you will discover a world of competition and enjoyment waiting for you to join. Sports can help you improve your health and wellness and help you integrate back into your community. The above are just some of the many organizations that help disabled vets and wounded active duty service members. For more, contact your local Veterans Administration office.