WASHINGTON - Twenty-five disabled veterans from Texas are competing in the National Veterans Wheelchair Games in Milwaukee.
This year marks the 27th year of the event, which has grown to become the largest annual wheelchair sports event in the world. Competition begins today and continues through June 26.
Competing from Ellis County is Jerry Hull, 61, of Milford. Hull served in the U.S. Air Force and is representing the VA medical facility in Dallas.
The National Veterans Wheelchair Games, presented by the Department of Veterans Affairs and Paralyzed Veterans of America, are open to all U.S. military veterans who use wheelchairs for sports competition due to spinal cord injuries, certain neurological conditions, amputations or other mobility impairments.
The Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center in Milwaukee and the Wisconsin chapter of PVA are hosting the 2007 Games.
At the Games, veterans are competing in track and field, swimming, basketball, weightlifting, softball, air guns, quad-rugby, bowling, table tennis, archery, handcycling, a motorized wheelchair rally, wheelchair slalom and power soccer. Trap shooting and wheelchair curling are exhibition events this year.
For the first time at the Games, a demonstration track event will be held for athletes who are able to stand using prosthetic devices. The local veterans all receive health care services at area VA medical facilities.
“The National Veterans Wheelchair Games are a chance for disabled veterans, who receive the benefits of VA’s world-class health care, to share in the camaraderie of friendly competition,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jim Nicholson. “The determination, stamina and competitive spirit on display at the Games are an inspiration.”
Sports are important in the therapy used to treat many disabilities. VA is a recognized leader in rehabilitation, with therapy programs available at VA health care facilities across the nation.
For many injured veterans, the Wheelchair Games provide their first exposure to wheelchair athletics.
“Our association with the National Veterans Wheelchair Games helps fulfill our promise of improving the quality of life for veterans with disabilities,” said Randy L. Pleva Sr., national president of the Paralyzed Veterans of America. “When the wheelchair athletes assemble in Milwaukee, the intensity of competition will be exceeded only by the fellowship of veterans united together.”
Visit the Games’ Web site at www.wheelchairgames.org.