Marine veteran Joyce Ralph sometimes stays at home in Massachusetts instead of going for a bike ride or doing other things she likes to do. She feels too anxious because of her post-traumatic stress disorder.
The two were among a group of about 50 veterans who took part in July in the Veterans Affairs New England Summer Sports Clinic in Rhode Island. For a week, they kayaked, water skied, cycled and sailed — activities designed to get them and other veterans thinking more about what they can than can’t do.
“This gives me a chance, with my anxiety, to push myself a little further, to realize there are safe places in the world,” said Ralph, 52, of Halifax, Massachusetts.
The veterans ranged in age from their 20s to 80s. The rehabilitation clinic is open to veterans with spinal cord injuries, amputations, vision loss, mental health problems and other disabilities.
Miosek (pronounced MY’-sak), 47, of Scotia, New York, lost both legs in 1990 when his head hit a power cable as he stood atop an armored vehicle in Germany, then fell 20 feet.
Meeting other veterans at the clinic with similar injuries made him feel he’s not alone.
“I feel a kinship toward them, since we are in that boat together,” he said. “While in service, we faced a lot of obstacles that we overcame. Now that I’m a disabled veteran, and with other disabled veterans, there are things that we can overcome together, as well.”
In Coventry, Rhode Island, VA volunteers and water ski instructors set up different ways veterans could ski depending on their needs, from a sling-like seat in the center of a wide ski to a three-person tube.
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Image courtesy of blogs.va.gov