Courage, resilience, teamwork. Those words are ingrained into the fabric of VETSports, an organization that dubs itself “The Official Home of Sports for Veterans.” 

VETSports is focused on improving the physical, mental and emotional health of Veterans through sports, physical activity and community involvement. The non-profit group has provided thousands of former service members with opportunities to reintegrate into their communities through sports, community service, events and partnerships.

group of men on softball field posing for team photo

All VETSports chapters are led by volunteers 

The organization makes a special push to help transitioning Veterans find their footing in civilian life after being accustomed to the rigors of the military and the traumatic experiences that it can present. VETSports supports active-duty military to Veterans at any reintegration stage. 

“It’s really all about getting them reintegrated in their hometowns with a team of Veterans in a different uniform,” VETSports President Randy Tharp told VA’s Veterans Experience Office. “VETSports is Veteran-driven, so all of our chapters are volunteer-led and member-based. [A Veteran] goes to the chapter lead and says, `I want to do softball,’ or `I want to do flag football or golf,’” he said. “VETSports provides the means and resources to do that. We pay for uniforms, league fees, equipment. As long as Veterans are participating in an active way with their teams, we find that that provides the most value.” 

VETSports maintains a series of core services. They include a program aimed at helping athletes who are pursuing a professional sports career, whether in bobsledding, archery, or any other sport. VETSports also has a scholarship-internship program to help Veterans as they go through school so, for example, they can potentially manage a team at their university or serve as a coach. VETSports will provide a stipend to help these Veterans pay for school. 

First responders can also participate 

In VETSports’ S3 program—Students Sidelines Support—the organization helps Veterans who may need help financially. Many Veterans are on fixed incomes and may need help with daycare, bill paying and other necessities. “We also provide that as an approach to get Veterans back active,” Tharp said.  

Membership in VETSports is free. Veterans can join online and get connected to a local chapter leader in their area. The organization has 35 chapters around the country, and any Veteran can launch a chapter in his or her community. VETSports provides the necessary resources, including the budget, to get kicked off. “Usually, chapters start as a team that may already be in place like softball or flag football,” Tharp said. 

All Veterans are eligible to participate.

“We even let our first responders participate,” Tharp said. “A lot of police officers, firefighters are Veterans themselves, so it’s just kind of a natural fit for us to come together. We also include them in that, too. And active duty, as well. We have a lot of active military participants around their bases.” 

A Veteran does not need to be disabled to participate in VETSports. 

“We don’t try to ask those questions,” Tharp said. “A lot of wounds are invisible, and I think just being part of a team, part of a group, part of a community is therapy in itself.” 

VETSports, he added, is accommodating to Veterans who are not sports-oriented: “It doesn’t have to be sports. It can be any physical activity we want to help with. We have community walks, community jogs. We’re open just to get Veterans back engaged.” 

Veterans can also check out VA’s sports and creative arts opportunities available through the Office of National Veterans Sports Programs and Special Events.

The sharing of any non-VA information does not constitute an endorsement of products and services on the part of VA. Veterans should verify the information with the organization offering.

By Mike Richman

Communications assistant on detail with VA's Veterans Experience Office

Share this story

Published on Aug. 29, 2022

Estimated reading time is 3.2 min.

Views to date: 33,810

Link Disclaimer

This page includes links to other websites outside our control and jurisdiction. VA is not responsible for the privacy practices or the content of non-VA Web sites. We encourage you to review the privacy policy or terms and conditions of those sites to fully understand what information is collected and how it is used.

Statement of Endorsement

Reference herein to any specific commercial products, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not necessarily constitute or imply its endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the United States Government, and shall not be used for advertising or product endorsement purposes.

30 Comments

  1. Dwayne Rouse September 10, 2022 at 5:34 pm

    interested in golf, swimming and darts but can’t see well and in south suburbs. I can’t drive so no way to get to the city. anything out this way.

  2. Tim Leatherman September 3, 2022 at 10:55 am

    What about Scuba Diving?

  3. Sidney Davis September 2, 2022 at 3:10 pm

    How can I involved myself in a Golf program in the Boston area?

  4. Bill September 1, 2022 at 8:48 pm

    How do you are is the way to partner with VETSports?

  5. Earl Williamson September 1, 2022 at 5:00 pm

    I’m a Disabled Vet that still likes playing ball. I live in Bend Oregon. Are there any teams I could join.

  6. Kelvin Davis September 1, 2022 at 4:34 pm

    Hello,

    I am a certified trainer and looking to start a fitness business, I am also a veteran, is there a chapter of this in Lansing, MI?

  7. henry Brand September 1, 2022 at 11:49 am

    I am 67 years old, and have no contact with anyone here in Florida. I am looking for a way to reconnect with vets. I have lived abroad for over 38 years and lost touch with my countrymen. where can I sign up for volunteer work.

    • Steve Gouthro September 2, 2022 at 11:04 am

      Try your local VFW.

  8. Nicole September 1, 2022 at 10:47 am

    Please add pictures of women Veterans to make this more inclusive. Thank you!

    • Nicole Sucks September 1, 2022 at 2:59 pm

      Why does there always have to be something about “inclusivity” – give me a break. How about a “you’re welcome” for even trying to put together events for veterans.

      • BobZ Zaniewski September 1, 2022 at 6:51 pm

        You are the exact reason that the comment is appropriate, God blesses you anyhow. Thanks, Nicole, for your service that allows for freedom of speech.

      • whiter knight September 2, 2022 at 3:55 pm

        it looks like you baited the white knight into coming to the princess’s rescue
        Yes, thank you so much for your service, Nicole. We are all striving for a society that is less exclusionary towards women, but I am open-minded and understand that even though the people in that picture may not conform apparently to Nicole’s exclusionary gender stereotypes of what women “are supposed to look like”, they may still, in fact, be women.

    • Sam Iam September 2, 2022 at 8:03 am

      Look at vetsports.org (official site). There are plenty of female photographs you can look at. Looked pretty inclusive to me. Relax and find another site to bash.

  9. Robert George Peck September 1, 2022 at 7:57 am

    so where do I sign up?

  10. Harvey Goodchild September 1, 2022 at 6:33 am

    Good Idea. Most communities have school gyms. ice time, fields, etc. with open time & opportunity if the right people can be involved too. It’s Out there. Access to these with other folks (not just veterans) in smaller communities like here was a God send to me after my 3 years active duty that culminated with my year Vietnam Tour. Later (my 50s & 6O’s) I evolved from recreational basketball & occasional vigorous stuff to a dedicated jogging routine to establish & sustain active lifestyle. Daughter being a physical therapist as a mentor a bonus. Show an INTEREST in the exercise habit & we draw in others to sustain physical & mental longevity, Walking 18 holes of Golf on a “Hill Course” 2-3 (occasionally more) times a week now-a-days and enjoy watching G-kids sports when winter weather closes in. It’s All Good as We KEEP MOVING ON. Enjoy the ongoing vigorous journey, the incremental progress & work toward those positive events.

    • Charles E Temple Jr. September 5, 2022 at 4:19 pm

      Many services and benefits available

  11. Harris Angell September 1, 2022 at 1:12 am

    Is there a program with a recumbent bike in San Diego for a USMC 84 yr old disabled Vietnam vet?

  12. Tony A Tharp September 1, 2022 at 1:08 am

    While not always considered a sport, veterans at Combat Veterans USA Motorcycle Legion welcome any motorcycle enthusiasts who are combat vets. Visit us at combatvetsusa.org to learn more or find us on Facebook.

    • Charles E Temple Jr. September 5, 2022 at 4:27 pm

      Looking forward to any p0sitive events and or happenings in the future

  13. Eric September 1, 2022 at 12:44 am

    I would like to know more about how to get involved. I’ve lived out of the US for more than 30 years and am now divorced and living in Dallas Texas.

    I’m 58 with a 10% disability. I use to love sports and mentally still do. I’m not so sure about the physical part, but willing to give a try. I love golf but haven’t played for a while. Maybe softball is also an option.

    Le me know if there’s going on in our neighborhoods where assistance and/or participation could be lended.

    Regards,’
    Eric

  14. Robert Diaz September 1, 2022 at 12:16 am

    I need help acquiring a certificate for Personal Trainer. Do you help pay for this?

  15. William Dawson August 31, 2022 at 11:37 pm

    This is a really great thing for veterans. I would be interested myself in some activities

  16. KENNETH HOVING August 31, 2022 at 10:37 pm

    PLEASE SEND ME MORE INFO AS IT BECOMES AVAILABLE.

  17. Shawn Himango August 31, 2022 at 9:58 pm

    I can’t use the therapy pool or gym at the VA anymore I have half dozen mental health issues and physical I’ve been bettering myself since 96 and still am weekly and exercise is good for your health my body mind and the VA doesn’t outsource to go to a gym I have a few diseases one that degenerative disc disease parts of my body going away and dupontren’s disease we’re still going in my hands on top of other issues but I think a gym could benefit parts of my body so I could possibly be in less pain they used to box neglecting do some kind of training like that also at a gym I can’t afford anything like that I’m getting evicted as it is cuz I don’t even make enough money to live on and sustain myself cuz car problems and getting parts tools I can’t afford to take to a garage so I have no life and if I could find a way to be able to work out shoot hoops any sports would like to take boxing or something marshall arts wise uz it makes me feel better and I’m always above average at the things I do practice is all it takes I’m 53 last time I was in the ring 40 kickboxing sports basketball just shooting around playing with my kids a little bit teenagers one day he was telling his wife dad use to shoot 3 pointers like a professional and I forgot about a lot of things like that I enjoyed soccer, softball football cross country track judo golf when I got my physical health problems doing that stuff I could I would pay for it still do with the pain cuz of it bad sometimes for days but it’s a I don’t know how to put it better pain feeling good different from just standing or picking up the yard doing dishes laundry mowing the lawn shoveling holding a fishing pole holding a rifle deer hunting or walking around to much ex I mean daily things mess with me and bad sometimes and it’s miserable but I say I’m not going to be not enjoying life and being in pain so I do things that I enjoyed in life and I feel like crap body in pain it’s a good pain instead of normal things doing around the house bad pain depressing I don’t know if anyone can relate

    • Dorothy Freeman September 1, 2022 at 2:47 pm

      I get it. Sciatica, degenerative disc disease and osteoarthritis. Praying for you ?

  18. LeeAnn Huber August 31, 2022 at 9:54 pm

    Where are the woman veterans?

  19. Jim Flanagan August 31, 2022 at 7:46 pm

    Through my local DAV, I’ve found Take a Vet Fishing, Veteran Kayakers, and PGA Hope. Check your local DAV and VA to see what’s available in your area.

  20. james gordon August 31, 2022 at 6:42 pm

    IS GOLF ONE OF THE SPORT!!

    • Karen vanHaagen Campbell September 1, 2022 at 11:53 am

      Yes, where is all the information we need to determine whether to sign up or not. Golf should be inlcuded but I see no information.

  21. Wesley Moody August 31, 2022 at 6:27 pm

    my sport is auto racing and you don’t have it so I’m out

Comments are closed.

More Stories

  • The Community Catalyst Award will honor organizations for excellence in building solutions that improve experiences for the Veteran community. 

  • The Dog Tag Fellowship Program for Veterans helps aspiring entrepreneurs learn the ins and outs of running a small business.

  • Free and low-cost resources are available to service members and Veterans that can make legal concerns less burdensome.