The participant application process for the 32nd National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic will be open Nov. 1–30, 2017.
The event, co-hosted by DAV and the Department of Veterans Affairs, has changed the lives of more than 10,000 of America’s most severely injured and ill veterans since its inception. The clinic—which is the largest adaptive rehabilitative sporting event of its kind in the world—will again take place in Snowmass Village, Colo., (near Aspen) and run April 1–6, 2018.
“We strive to make this the best rehabilitative event in the world. We want veterans to achieve their highest possible potential, and that’s a little bit different for everyone who attends,” said Teresa Parks, the VA’s director for the event. “If a veteran can stand, even if he or she has a severe injury, we have frames that can hold them up. If they want to ski, we have equipment for them. If they want to snowboard, we can accommodate that. The purpose of the event is to remove any obstacle that stands in their way.”
Often referred to as “Miracles on a Mountainside,” the clinic helps injured veterans rebuild confidence by regaining balance in their lives and by making connections with other veterans who have had similar experiences.
“One thing that has always stood out to me is seeing the participants feed off of each other’s energy and sharing their secrets of perseverance and success,” said National Voluntary Services Director John Kleindienst. “Perhaps, most importantly, they enjoy the camaraderie this week offers, but they also know it doesn’t have to end when they leave the mountain. I’ve never seen an expiration date on camaraderie.”
The clinic is 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. Some active-duty military members are also eligible to participate.
Studies show adaptive sports alleviate stress, reduce reliance on pain and depression medication, and result in higher achievement in education and employment while also leading to greater independence.
“Seeing the profound impact this clinic has had on so many thousands of veterans and their family members over the years has been a great honor for DAV,” said Barry Jesinoski, national headquarters executive director. “We certainly hope to be a part of this for many more years—and many more veterans—to come.”