VA to Partner with U.S. Olympic Committee to Qualify Disabled Veterans for Paralympics

In Sports, Wheelin' and Dealin' by Beth Bourgeois

Disabled veteran athletes can now set their sights even higher and become eligible to compete in some of the nation’s premiere athletic venues thanks to an agreement between the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

“This is a tremendous opportunity for America’s disabled veterans to excel and compete in elite level athletic competition,” said the Honorable R. James Nicholson, Secretary of Veterans Affairs. “The agreement between VA and the U.S. Olympic Committee will further inspire disabled veteran athletes to reach their fullest potential in sports competition.”

Under the terms of the agreement signed today, participants in VA’s National Veterans Wheelchair Games and the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic will now be able to qualify for positions on the prestigious U.S. Paralympic Team and the U.S. Paralympic National Teams.

The Memorandum of Understanding between VA and the Olympic Committee means the Department’s marquee sporting events for disabled veterans can now serve as a pipeline in providing competitors for American Paralympic teams engaged in national and international competition.

“The United States Olympic Committee is honored to have the opportunity to serve those who have given selflessly and courageously to our country as members of the Armed Forces,” said USOC Chief Executive Officer Jim Scherr.

“The Paralympic movement began after World War II as a way to assist in the rehabilitation of injured military personnel. This new partnership between the USOC and VA will ensure that these efforts continue, and will provide new opportunities for our veterans.”

Headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colo., U.S. Paralympics is a division of the USOC and was formed in May 2001 with the goal of enhancing programs, obtaining funding and providing competitive opportunities for athletes with physical disabilities to participate in Paralympic sports. Its mission is to be the world leader in the Paralympic movement and to promote excellence in the lives of all people with physical disabilities.

The VA Winter Sports Clinic is co-sponsored by VA and the Disabled American Veterans. It is an annual rehabilitation program open to all U.S. military veterans with spinal cord injuries or diseases, visual impairments, certain neurological conditions, orthopedic amputations or other disabilities, who receive care at any VA health care facility.

VA’s Wheelchair Games are presented by VA and Paralyzed Veterans of America, and are open to all U.S. military veterans who use wheelchairs for sports competition after having suffered spinal cord injuries, certain neurological conditions, amputations or other mobility impairments.