Veterans from across the country will converge in Dallas, Texas to compete, learn and defy the limitations of their injuries.
To help the Veterans train, Team Depot and the American Legion partnered with the James A. Haley Veteran’s Hospital in Tampa, Florida to build a wheelchair obstacle course.
Rebecca Muldoon, the local Home Depot store manager and district Team Depot captain said “We feel it’s a great way for us to partner with VA and their summer of service, working on this project for the patients here at the spinal cord injury (SCI) center.”
Muldoon brought 12 Home Depot volunteer employees to build the obstacles and Home Depot donated the materials needed.
Michael Firestone, the lead physical therapist at the Tampa VA’s SCI center said,”It’ a way for us to get our guys interested in competing and to introduce them to handling obstacles in the community.”
“I’m not aware of any other VA’s that have this set up so hopefully it gives us a little competitive advantage in the wheelchair games,” he said.
The obstacles are not just for competition, but rehabilitation.
Chief of Spinal Cord Injury, Dr. Kevin White said, “This is all part of their rehabilitation. With new injuries, they often are not sure if they can maneuver ramps and rocks or sand, gravel they just don’t know if they can do it. This gives them that opportunity to get out there and practice doing it.”
But the Veterans at the James A. Haley Veteran’s Hospital won’t have to navigate the course alone.
National Veteran Wheel Chair Games pro and Paralyzed Veterans America national service officer Stephen Bush is ready to teach the new athletes.
“I went to the wheelchair games four times,” Bush said. “This course is a confidence builder for Veterans when they are first injured. It gives them a place to train and see obstacles they may encounter.”
Bush is excited to now have the ability to practice on the course as well. He may have not specifically have said it, but the way his face lights up with satisfaction after completing an obstacle says otherwise.
VA takes its commitment to care for the nation’s Veterans and their families very seriously, and this summer, we invite all of you to join in that commitment. Community by community, state by state, our nation can work together to serve Veterans during the VA Summer of Service.
Look for VA at community events and engage our employees and partners.
Reach out to your local medical facility or National Cemetery to find out what you can do to help.