Officials from the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) announced an expanded military program, the Veterans Paralympic Performance Program (VP3), which will provide elite-level sports programming and training for physically disabled veterans. Working closely with the Department of Veterans Affairs, the USOC will offer qualified athletes the opportunity to train as full-time resident athletes at Olympic and Paralympic training sites throughout the United States.
Norman Bellingham, chief operating officer of the USOC, made the announcement. Three veteran-athletes who are training to make a future Paralympic team and secretary of veteran’s affairs Jim Nicholson were in attendance.
“Providing elite sport competition for persons with physical disabilities through our Paralympic program is an integral goal of the USOC,” Bellingham said. “Our commitment to expand Paralympic activity ensures that veterans and other persons with physical disabilities will have the opportunity to derive the benefits of sport participation while pursuing their dream of representing America at the Paralympic Games.”
Nicholson said that “America’s veterans deserve the best. For physically disabled veterans interested in representing the United States in Paralympic sports competition, that means receiving world-class training in facilities operated by the U.S. Olympic Committee. This partnership also builds upon the character, dedication and skill of physically disabled veterans who are more interested in their abilities than their disabilities.”
Applications for the program are available online at www.usparalympics.org. Qualified athletes will begin training by June 1. The sites for the new VP3 initiative are:
- U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.
- U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif.
- U.S. Olympic Education Center, Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Mich.
- Lakeshore Foundation, Olympic and Paralympic Training Site in Birmingham, Ala.
- University of Central Oklahoma Paralympic Training Site in Edmond, Okla.
- Challenge Aspen in Aspen, Colo.