Providence VA Medical Center, Rhode Island
VA New England Adaptive Summer Sports Clinic
Approximately 50 disabled Veterans gathered in Rhode Island July 18 through 21, 2016, for the Veterans Summer Sports Clinic, a Department of Veterans Affairs special rehabilitation-related sporting event for Veterans enrolled in VA New England Health Care.
Dr. Susan MacKenzie, director of the Providence VA Medical Center, hosted the event, which was organized by the VA Boston Health Care System.
"The Summer Sports Clinic can be a life-changing event for both the Veteran participants and the volunteers," said MacKenzie. "The clinic helps new participants change their focus from activities they perhaps thought they couldn't do anymore, to the wide range of things they can do with the right equipment and a willingness to learn, and builds camaraderie as more experienced participants share the challenges they've overcome."
Participants' in the four-day clinic had conditions that included orthopedic amputations, traumatic brain injuries, burn injuries, psychological trauma, certain neurological conditions, spinal cord injuries and visual impairments.
"It's overwhelming all they do for us," said Pauline Nadeau, a 25-year U.S. Air Force Veteran from Hampton, N.H., who has a degenerative joint condition and is participating in the event for the fourth year. "It's like a family -- for both the Veterans and the volunteers. Every time an event like this comes up, I apply for it. It gives you a reason to get out of bed in the morning and workout every day."
Events included adaptive golf, kayaking, sailing, water skiing, cycling and deep sea fishing.
"I do a lot of hand cycling on my own, but this event gives me an opportunity to try new bikes and learn to get better," said Paul Nyerick, a U.S. Marine Corps Veteran of Vietnam from Granby, Conn., who has multiple sclerosis and is participating in his seventh Adaptive Summer Sports Clinic. "There is a learning curve, but being disabled doesn't mean much once you know what you can do."