Jake served in the Marine Corps during Vietnam. Later, after he separated from service, he was injured and came to VA for care. Since then, VA has introduced him to all sorts of adaptive sports and activities. We caught up to him at the winter sports clinic that VA and DAV hold every year in Snowmass, CO.
How did VA help your recovery.?
VA was very instrumental in my rehab. VA handles all of my medications, my therapy, and they assist me in just about every way that I could imagine. I’m very honored because I don’t think I could get this assisted anywhere else.
How many years have you used VA for care?
Well, ever since I got out. When I was first injured, I did all my therapy, most of my main therapy, at Metro Hospital from a Dr. Frost. He’s a great spinal doctor. And after I left there, I went to Cleveland VA where I became active.
Really, back then they were really really great with picking up a poor lost soul like myself and bringing him back to life. They get me involved in all of these things that I’m involved with. As far as my sports activities, it mostly comes through VA or through another Vet.
What kind of activities?
Oh, I’m loaded. I’m a level one open water scuba diver. We have an adaptive rowing team. I hand cycle. I do the national wheelchair games where I accomplished a pretty good record in weightlifting, shotput, javelin and discus.
If someone is curious about what VA provides, what steps should they take to get started?
If you’re a Veteran interested in almost anything – housing, ramps, vehicles – I would suggest that you go to one of the Veterans reps [Veterans Service Organizations], such as a PVA, DAV, Legion, Vietnam Vets.
You go down there. They seat you and they ask your needs. They see what physical condition you are in or what you qualify for and they will share with you your qualifications.
Now, after they share with you your qualifications, they will ask you, what can I do for you? Give them a suggestion of what you need and they go to work.
What advice would you have for Veterans of the younger generation?
What I would say to that generation is don’t give up on VA because if you try to go somewhere else and try to seek help somewhere else you’re going to find out it’s going to be twice or maybe three times as hard.
If you go anywhere, you’re going to have to wait and you may not get it. But at VA, they basically meet all Veterans’ essential needs and beyond.
If you find a person that has a disability and he’s very aggressive, very outgoing doing this. And you see another person maybe had that same disability and maybe they’re just coming home and they figure their life is over. There’s nothing.
You look at me. What am I going to do? And they see this and so they say, whoa, I could do that and maybe more.
So it’s hard in the beginning when someone is telling you this, but see, my thing is that show beats the tell every time.