The VA has announced $8 million in grants for adaptive sports programs for disabled veterans and service members. The money can be used for development, training, equipment, recreation therapists, coaches, sports equipment, supplies, and other program components. The amount of funding available for each eligible organization varies between calendar years, but organizations may apply for more than 1 grant annually.
Studies have shown that adaptive sports and recreation can help with the transition from active duty to being home with a disability. One study, for instance, found that sports programs can help participants develop a sense of competence and “may also lead to a feeling of coherence between life prior to acquiring a disability and their current situation.” A study of 18 Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans who participated in weeklong therapeutic and adaptive sports programs found significant pre- and posttest differences in mood states (eg, tension, depression, anger) and vigor. The researchers also found a “promising trend” regarding improvement in quality of life and psychological health.
Risk and physical exertion are part of many service members’ daily routines, and adaptive sports can help them by calling on the same skills after they have returned home. In announcing the grant, then VA Acting Secretary Sloan Gibson said, “Adaptive sports can help veterans confront challenges and redefine their capabilities, which is critical to successful rehabilitation.”