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Adaptive Sports for Veterans

Wounded Warrior Track and Field

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) use Adaptive Sports as part of the healing process for returning injured service members and veterans. Adaptive Sports have been made popular by many motivated Wounded Warriors across the globe. Wounded veterans now compete in the highest of levels of international competition at the U.S. Paralympics or in the Invictus Games, as well as in Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs' sanctioned programs.

From the VA Website: The mission of the VA National Veterans Sports Programs & Special Events Office is to motivate, encourage, and sustain participation and competition in adaptive sports among disabled Veterans and members of the Armed Forces through partnerships with VA clinical personnel as well as national and community-based adaptive sports programs. The Office achieves this mission by providing information and resources to disabled Veterans, their support networks, and those in the adaptive sports community.

There are many other Department of Defense and Veteran Affairs programs that feature Adaptive Sports as a model for helping the wounded service members and veterans.

Intangible benefits of such programs

The Wounded Warriors receive much more than a venue to compete in sports, they receive much of what they miss when they leave the military abruptly and not of their choosing. The intangible benefits of Adaptive Sports programs are:

  • Being part of something again (bigger than themselves)
  • Knowing that they are inspiring others to "never give up"
  • A sense of camaraderie and not feeling "different"
  • Knowing that others appreciate, support, and cheer their efforts and hard work
  • Burning off stress and staying physically fit through regular activity
  • Feeling like they are on a new mission in life
  • And -- most importantly -- having a better quality of life through learning skills and practice

By nature, service members are givers, the ultimate team mates, who choose to serve others. Adaptive Sports and competitions allow them to be a part of a team (unit) again with a common "redefined" mission.

Training Allowances

Training allowances are available for our veteran athletes who compete on Paralympic levels.

The VA National Veterans Sports Programs & Special Events Office provides a monthly assistance allowance for disabled veterans as authorized by 38 U.S.C. 322(d) and Section 703 of the Veterans' Benefits Improvement Act of 2008 for qualifying athletes training in Paralympic sports.

Through the program, the VA will pay a monthly allowance to a Veteran with either a service-connected or non-service-connected disability if the Veteran meets the minimum military standards or higher (e.g., Emerging, Talent Pool, National Team) in his or her respective sport at a recognized competition. In addition to making the military standard, an athlete must be nationally or internationally classified by his or her respective sport federation as eligible for Paralympic competition within 6 or 12 months of a qualifying performance.

Athletes must have established training and competition plans, and are responsible for turning in monthly and quarterly reports in order to continue receiving the monthly assistance allowance. The allowance rate for an athlete approved for monetary assistance is the same as the 38 U.S.C. Chapter 31 Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment (VR&E) rate, which in FY 2013 ranged from $500 up to $1,100 per month, depending on the number of dependents.

VA Forms for the Paralympic Training Allowance

More Programs to Join or Assist as a Volunteer:

The Valor Games promotes healthy, active lifestyles and is important to successful community reintegration. The Valor Games proudly support such endeavors. World Sport Chicago hosted the first Valor Games in 2011. All regional events are organized in partnership with U.S. Paralympics and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Wheelchair Games – A Department of Veterans Affairs athletic competition held in various regions around the United States for wounded service members and veterans.

Adaptive Sports Clinics – See for when and where these clinics in a variety of skills and sports take place around the United States.

Adaptive Sports Schedule – See for games, clinics, and camps on Adaptive Sports for 2016.

Adaptive Sports Facebook Page – Join and get inspired by our athletes and see how you can participate.

Invictus Games – an International Competition for Wounded Military Members from 15 different countries competing in ten different sporting events, developed by Prince Harry of Wales. The 2016 Invictus Games were televised on ESPN2 and held in Orlando.

Adaptive Sport inspires recovery and support rehabilitation. The amount of respect and growing understanding that the pubic learns from observing these events is also helpful to the recovering athlete.
Welcoming our service members back home and learning how to assist in a "new normal" is all of our responsibility. Find out more about how you can help or support our veterans in other ways (employment opportunities, job skills training, resume writing, etc).

To our Veterans: Thank you for your service, your continued inspiration, and reminding us to "Never Quit!"

Related Topics

Fitness Motivation General Fitness Disabled Veterans

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Contributor

Stew Smith works as a presenter and editorial board member with the Tactical Strength and Conditioning program of the National Strength and Conditioning Association and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS). He has also written hundreds of articles on Military.com's Fitness Center that focus on a variety of fitness, nutritional, and tactical issues military members face throughout their career.

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