“We have arrived, let’s begin!” belts out Air Force Veteran Kim Specht, who proudly plants Mercury’s guidon in the ground near Stars and Stripes. Amidst the cheers, laughter and obvious pride, there is a lot more going on here than just sailing; nine women Veterans know they are about to be a part of something very special.

“Who wants the full America’s Cup experience?” yells the captain. Several women giggle like young girls before they jump to their feet and start barking out their own orders to each other. There is work to be done.

“I have waited 12 years for this, to feel this camaraderie again and to feel OK, like I belong again.” says Specht.

She and eight other women representing different branches, backgrounds and personal battles make up the first ever all women Veteran Summer Sports Clinic Team. While steering the boat, Specht tells me how she first learned of the games just nine months ago. Specht knew immediately she had to be a part of it. Determination lead her to the VA Adaptive Sports website and Acting Director Tristan Heaton’s phone number. She called him right away. “We have to have an all women’s team and he was like, ‘go for it Kim.’”

“I have never laughed so hard in my life.” says former 2nd Lieutenant Jazmin Coll-Serrano.

Team Mercury at the National Veterans Summer Sports Clinic

Straining to hear her over the singing, dancing and constant laughter, the Air Force Veteran tells me her involvement with VA’s Adaptive Sports Program literally gave her a new life. After slowly losing her vision to a rare virus, Coll-Serrano has purpose again. She says Adaptive Sports is her life now hoping one day to inspire and train other Veterans.

“C’mon Mercury, 1-2-3!” Ten minutes later the main sail is up and Team Mercury is beaming from ear to ear—a new team, a new confidence and a new force to be reckoned with.

And don’t forget that VA’s Adaptive Sports team is on the ground to bring you the latest news, stories, and photos from all the events. Be sure to check out our Flickr photo set, which will be updated daily. And if you’re on Twitter, follow @VAAdaptiveSport and the #NVSSC hashtag.

Jill Atwood is a Public Affairs Officer with the Salt Lake City VA Medical Center. She served in the U.S. Army National Guard and is a Gulf War Veteran.

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Published on Sep. 19, 2012

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  1. Shanda Bear September 27, 2012 at 6:46 pm

    Dear Team Mercury,

    I just want to take a moment to reflect upon the PRIDE DIGNITY and RESPECT each of our fellow Veteran Hero Athletes showered upon us. They EMBRACED US! THET ENCOURAGED us. But the E M P O W E R M E N T which flowed so naturally from one team to another will get me through my rough days ahead.

    God bless you!

    Shanda Taylor-Boyd
    U.S.Army, Retired

  2. Tracy September 26, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    OMG. these ladies were so full of life and energy! they had us laughing almost continuously. They reminded me of what a team should be…whether as part of a clinic or in my own work place. Mercury – Thank you for reminding me and for bringing those awesome memories of boot camp and the commraderie that was shared…you had that and more! They did such an AMAZING job at Track N Field and to a special coach, Wendi, thank you for what you do for us Veterans, and Wafer – you are an awesome pal! Thank you all for serving our country. I am brought down to my knees, humbly thanking the Creator, for the privilege of being able to serve all of you at the Sports Clinic.

  3. Debbie Sexton September 20, 2012 at 8:38 pm

    I praise you women first of all for serving our country! Giving your lives for my freedom. I have a special place in my heart for our service men and women. My prayers go up for you all daily. I think this is awesome what you ladies are doing Mecury Divas! I look forward to hearing more about your Sports Events & I pray for this team to increase in numbers by the day! I’ll post it on my personal site & I hope others will start their own chapter! Way to go Divas!

  4. Mary K. Ambrose September 19, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    Thank you very much for bringing this type of program for female veterans to light! I look forward to reading more about this very interesting article! Thanks again.

    Mary A.

  5. Charles Lilly September 19, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    I may have stepped in a big pile of doo doo because I took the level 5 initiative to talk face to face with my Congressman and Senator about 18 suicides a day 24/7, The Representatives have written to my Hospital Director asking her to Staff up as you will.
    Veterans are all in this together, This became my passion and has made me more sick than I was. I figured this is my last chance to win without bullets. Not much time left.

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