U.S. Army Veteran Brent King speaks with U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Under Secretary for Health Dr. Shereef Elnahal during the 38th annual National Disabled Veteran Winter Sports Clinic. The event is taking place in Snowmass, Colo., from April 1 – 8, 2024, and provides approximately 400 Veteran participants an opportunity to participate in adaptive winter sports. (Photo by Axel Villacis-Maldonado, VA Media Team)

SNOWMASS, Colo. – It’s been nearly three decades since U.S. Army Veteran Brent King and his Spokane VA Healthcare System Recreational Therapist Vance Pease first met. This year, both men returned to Snowmass to participate in the 38th annual National Disabled Veteran Winter Sports Clinic, both professionally and personally as friends.

“My introduction to the Winter Sports Clinic came by way of the then chief of prosthetics for the Spokane VA Medical Center, who was a triple-amputee Marine Corps Veteran,” King shared. “Even though I was hesitant about attending, he told me I was going; that push was the best thing that could have happened to me.”

King, who served from 1988 to 1995, experienced his first major injury after surviving an 18-foot fall during a training exercise. Then, 18-years after the initial injury, bone infections led to the painful decision to amputate both of his legs.

“At first, I was consumed by self-pity and I had a pretty bad attitude,” King, who is a member of the DAV chapter in North Idaho, said. “Then I went to my first Winter Sports Clinic and everyone – from the staff to the Veterans – was happy. Being in that environment really motivated me and from there, I just changed my attitude.”

A successful mortgage broker and general contractor, King credits the adaptive sports event with changing his life for the better. He currently serves as the executive director for the northwest chapter of the American Paralyzed Veterans of America.

“I’m really grateful for everyone who makes this event possible,” said King. “The Winter Sports Clinic could not function smoothly without the support it receives from the volunteers, donors, and VA staff.”

That last category is a group King is particularly grateful for and, according to Pease, the feeling is mutual.

“Working with Brent has been incredible. The example he sets for other Veterans is profound and seeing the impact he has reinforces what I know to be true about the VA,” Pease shared. “Events like the Winter Sports Clinic prove that there are people who can face adversity and get back to seeking true enjoyment, what is meaningful, and what gives them purpose.”