Injured Veterans Find New Capabilities at Adaptive Sports Clinic

Apr 12, 2019

GAINESVILLE, Fla: Army veteran and Gainesville resident Charles Miller had tried other adaptive sports, but not jiu jitsu. He expected a brief exchange with a sparring partner he could not see, but who sounded younger and stronger.

Instead, he pinned his opponent down on the mat and subdued him. Charles, who has impaired vision, found new confidence and a sense of empowerment at a Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) adaptive sports clinic in Orlando, Florida.



Charles and a group of veterans from around the country, many of whom have visual impairments, participated in adaptive sports like jiu jitsu, rock climbing, goalball, and other games that reignite the excitement of competitive and recreational sports.

As a 28-year veteran of the Army and Army Reserves, Charles described a transition many veterans face. When we come back injured and are medically retired, we feel like we're broken, Charles said. You feel like your life is gone and even your family and friends treat you differently. But you feel the same on the inside. Wounded Warrior Project shows us how to live beyond disability. I can be blind and go rock climbing. That's an amazing feeling.

Charles began losing vision years ago as a result of retinitis pigmentosa, a disease that affects the retina - the light-sensitive lining of the eye. He remains independent with help from a guide dog, friends and family, and technology.

What Wounded Warrior Project does so well is be supportive and encourage us to experience things, Charles said. It opens up a world that many of us thought was lost.

In adaptive sports, service-related injuries are no longer restrictions, but instead serve as gateways to each warrior's new capabilities and mission in life. Wounded warriors with various physical limitations can participate in WWP adaptive sports.

After each WWP adaptive sports clinic, warriors receive tools and assistance to continue improving their skills at home in their communities, where they can take part in competitions or join adaptive sports teams.

Learn more about WWP's adaptive sports activities and wellness for warriors and caregivers at https//wwp.news/WWP. (PRN)

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