Magazine article Soldiers Magazine

Miracles on a Mountainside: What Began as One Man's Therapy Technique for a Disabled Veteran Has Grown into a Clinic Bringing Together More Than 350 Severely Disabled Veterans

Magazine article Soldiers Magazine

Miracles on a Mountainside: What Began as One Man's Therapy Technique for a Disabled Veteran Has Grown into a Clinic Bringing Together More Than 350 Severely Disabled Veterans

Article excerpt

SOME were injured in accidents, others in combat operations, but all of the veterans visiting Snowmass Village, Colo., were there for one purpose--to challenge themselves and cheer for each other during the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic.

What began as one man's therapy technique for a disabled veteran has grown into a clinic bringing together more than 350 severely disabled veterans for a twist on rehabilitation.

The clinic, sponsored by the Department of Veterans Affairs and Disabled American Veterans, focuses on using winter sports to help veterans gain confidence and courage by doing what they think is impossible. This year, Soldiers injured in operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom were given the opportunity to participate, thanks to donations made by the people of Aspen and Snowmass Village, Colo.

"I've been an instructor with the clinic for 13 years," said Neil Cames, with the Snowmass Resort Association. "I was talking with Sandy Trombetta, who began this clinic, and we agreed to find a way to involve the veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq. I know a lot of them couldn't afford a trip like this, so we relied on the generosity of the people of Aspen and Snowmass and were able to raise $40,000 to pay for the veterans' expenses."

Veterans attending the clinic learn adaptive Alpine and Nordic skiing and have the opportunity to participate in such other events as rock climbing, horseback riding, sled hockey, shooting or scuba diving. Everyone who attends has to attempt to ski.

"This program is just what OIF and OEF veterans need to be involved with," said Alan Bowers, national commander of the Disabled American Veterans. "Today's service members are typically very healthy right up to the point where they lose a limb or their eyesight, and then they have to learn to live with the disability. It's very easy to get down on yourself, but this program and the people who volunteer here don't let that happen."

Bowers added that just relearning to do simple tasks with a prosthesis can be difficult. But for Soldiers to make it through their recovery and then ski from the top of a mountain is truly a miracle.

"When I first came here 10 years ago I was nervous and apprehensive, but by the end of the first day I made it down that hill and it made a huge difference for me," said Bowers. …

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