WASHINGTON — The Department of Veterans Affairs announced that it awarded nearly $16 million in grant funding to 91 national, regional, and community programs to help more than 13,000 Veterans and service members with disabilities participate in adaptive sports. This funding will help these organizations plan, develop, manage, and implement a variety of sports and equine therapy activities, including life-improving programs for Veterans and training for providers.
Adaptive sports are competitive or recreational sports and activities customized to fit the needs of Veterans with disabilities, including paralympic sports, archery, cycling, skiing, hunting, rock climbing, and sky diving. These activities allow Veterans to rehabilitate through recreation and encourage an active and fit lifestyle.
“These grants help ensure that Veterans with disabilities have access to sports and activities that build independence and quality of life,” said VA Secretary Denis McDonough. “These heroes served and sacrificed for our country, and we are proud to help them play the sports they love.”
Army Veteran Freddie De Los Santos joined the military after 9/11. After losing a leg in a devastating injury, he took up hand cycling as part of his rehabilitation. De Los Santos is now a para-cycling champion and proud to represent the U.S. through adaptive sports. He touts VA’s Adaptive Sports program’s benefits as a compliment to his VA health care services.
“The program helped me to incorporate myself back into society – mentally, socially, and physically,” said Army Veteran Freddie De Los Santos. “It has been the most rewarding experience being able to compete despite my disability.”
Over the last nine years, VA has awarded more than $100 million in adaptive sports grants to improve Veterans’ well-being and independence. Recipients of this year’s grants are located in 30 states and Puerto Rico.
VA awards grants to a range of organizations, including Veterans Service Organizations, city and regional municipalities, and other community groups. In addition to equine therapy, the grants will support a variety of sports opportunities for disabled Veterans and disabled members of the Armed Forces, to include cycling, kayaking, archery, hunting and pickleball.
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