2019 marks 39 years of the National Veterans Wheelchair Games (NVWG) empowering Veterans with spinal cord injuries, Multiple Sclerosis, amputations and other neurological impairments to live more healthy and independent lives through sports and recreation. Co-presented by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), this annual rehabilitation program introduces new or “novice” Veterans from across the United States to wheelchair sports while providing an opportunity for returning Veterans to compete and come together as a community to support one another. From the early days in Richmond to this coming summer in Orlando, thousands of Veterans have or are gaining the skills, confidence, and experience through wheelchair sports to take on the challenges in their daily lives with a spirit of opportunity rather than limitation.
The success of the National Veterans Wheelchair Games would not be possible without the support of of many organizations and people. Each year, the VA and PVA work together to organize, coordinate, and deliver a new experience to our wheelchair athletes and the local community hosting the Games. This year, the 2018 NVWG Local Organizing Committee, led by the Orlando VA Medical Center and the PVA Central Florida Chapter, is working tirelessly to make the upcoming NVWG in Orlando one to remember. In addition to support from the VA, PVA, and local chapter, sponsors and supporters generously provide the tools and resources needed to successfully execute the Games. A brigade of more than 3000 local volunteers donate their time and assist with all aspects of the Games, supporting specific events and engaging with the Veterans. Lastly, hundreds of VA therapists, physicians, nurses, and PVA Chapter staff from across the country contribute their time, expertise, and passion to work with each Veteran, to ensure they are prepared and get the most out of the experience.
For the Veterans, the Games don’t stop after the final whistle blows at the end of the week. Veterans discover skills and develop friendships that carryover for the rest of the year. The ultimate goal of the partnership between the VA and PVA is to empower Veterans to apply the lessons learned and confidence gained at the National Veterans Wheelchair Games in their daily lives as they engage with their families and communities.