News: DLA Aviation employees volunteer at National Veterans Wheelchair Games
RICHMOND, Va. — About 20 employees from Defense Logistics Agency Aviation and Defense Supply Center Richmond, Va., volunteered their time to support the 32nd National Veterans Wheelchair Games, which took place over a week in late June in Richmond.
More than 500 veterans participated in this year’s games, which included competition in 17 different events, including swimming, basketball, table tennis, archery and wheelchair slalom, which is a timed obstacle course.
The theme of this year’s games, which ran June 25-30 was: “Let the Games Continue Where it All Began.” The theme commemorated the site of the first National Wheelchair Games, held in 1981.
“The National Wheelchair Games are an outstanding event that showcases the abilities and determination of veterans,” Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki said in a news release. “The VA is committed to providing world class care to our wounded heroes.”
Bill Lawson, national president of Paralyzed Veterans of America, said his organization is “thrilled to see the National Veterans Wheelchairs Games return to Richmond after 31 years.”
“Adaptive sports play a crucial role in getting people back into life after serious injury, and the Wheelchair Games are often a life-changing experience for our athletes, representing a unique combination of competition, rehabilitation and fun,” Lawson said.
The games, presented by the Department of Veterans Affairs and Paralyzed Veterans of America, were open to all U.S. military veterans who use wheelchairs for sports competition due to spinal cord injuries, neurological conditions, amputations or other mobility impairments. The Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center and the Virginia Mid-Atlantic Chapter of Paralyzed Veterans of America hosted this year’s games.
“I feel, as an American and a soldier with the Virginia Nation Guard, the challenges I face each day are routine and small, but to see the combat injuries and stress of these veterans is something you know takes time to understand and accept,” said Mariah White, a supply planner in DLA Aviation’s Supplier Support Directorate. “As I signed up to work the different events, all I thought of was this could have been me. As a soldier, I owe this to my comrades. This was a grand opportunity to support the veterans who sacrifices their lives for this country. It’s the promise veterans make to one another that we will always give you a hand up. I am giving my hand up early, before I wave the white flag and join the veterans ranks.
“There was so much enthusiasm and gratitude from the veterans,” White said. “They had smiles on their faces, and just kept thanking the volunteers. I met veterans from all around the world. It was a pleasure to assist them knowing that each one of them had taken the oath.”
The National Wheelchair Games are an outgrowth of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ historic involvement in wheelchair sports. Wheelchair sports had their beginning in the aftermath of World War II, when young disabled veterans began playing wheelchair basketball in VA hospitals throughout the United States. Interest in wheelchair basketball soon spread to other sports such as track and field, bowling, swimming and archery, spawning the formation of several associations devoted to new and innovative wheelchair sports.
“As a veteran, I am always looking for opportunities to support other veterans,” said Sandra Cousin, a human resources specialist with DLA Training. “I am thankful that I completed my assignment without any physical challenges and when a representative from the VA Medical Center shared with me that the original games started here in Richmond 31 years ago and this is the first time since then that they are back, I said, ‘Yeah!’ And being from Richmond, I knew that I wanted to be a part of this celebration.
“To witness the strength, endurance, spirit and tenacity of our wheelchair veterans is amazing,” Cousin said. “It is definitely a must-see, and you won’t believe half of the things one can do in a wheelchair.”
The first National Veterans Wheelchair Games were held in 1981, the “International Year of Disabled Persons,” at the VA Medical Center in Richmond. That year, 74 veterans from 14 states competed in sports ranging from table tennis and billiards to swimming and weightlifting. 2012 marks the first time the event has returned to its birthplace in Richmond.
Date Posted:07.16.2012 15:35
Location:RICHMOND, VA, US
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