Those with friends or family who have served our country know that the worry, stress and pain does not always end once their loved one returns home. Many veterans return home to their loved ones with both visible and invisible wounds, ranging from an acute medical issue to a long-lasting condition.
Out of the 18.8 million veterans currently living in the U.S., nearly 5.9 million veterans receive treatment at a VA hospital, according to the Veterans Affairs Department. Although these veterans are being treated for a variety of injuries and wounds in traditional medical facilities, taking part in fun activities like adaptive sports can play an equally crucial role in their recovery.
Many experts agree that disabled veterans report better health, new friendships and an improved quality of life when participating in adaptive sports. Take medically retired senior airman Heather Carter, for example. A natural athlete and softball fanatic, Heather played competitively throughout high school and her time in the Air Force.
It was during an Air Force softball game in 2010 that her life changed forever when an accident severely injured her left leg. Four years later, after 14 surgeries and the eventual amputation of her left leg, she still had a long road of recovery ahead
Adaptive sports gave Heather a sense of normalcy that had been missing since her injury. By getting active, Heather was able to push herself to new limits.
She has since started hand-cycling competitively and plays on the National Wounded Warrior Softball Team as part of her adaptive sports therapy. Additionally, she is representing the Air Force in the Warrior Games, competing in the cycling, field and sitting volleyball events.
It’s athletes like Heather who inspire Fisher House Foundation to co-sponsor the Warrior Games and Invictus Games. Known for a network of comfort homes where families of wounded, injured or ill service members and veterans can stay at no cost while their loved one is receiving treatment, Fisher House is there to help during all stages of recovery.
One of the most important parts of recovery is celebrating triumphs, so supporting adaptive sports events like Warrior Games and Invictus Games brings Fisher House Foundation full circle.
Both the Invictus Games and Warrior Games are more than just sports events for competing athletes: They are a celebration for families who get to share in the fun and excitement. For some competitors, this is the first time their family is seeing them after their rehabilitation and seeing that there is life after injury.
Having a family’s love and support, and knowing there’s a whole community rooting for them, makes all the difference to these brave men and women. It is an honor and privilege to see these athletes and their families thrive ― together.
Ken Fisher is the chairman and CEO of the Fisher House Foundation. His organization has constructed more than 70 Fisher Houses in the U.S., which offer no-cost accommodations to military families visiting loved ones who are undergoing medical treatment.