The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) awarded two grants totaling $7.5 million to the U.S. Olympic Committee to enhance recreation and sporting activities for disabled veterans and disabled members of the Armed Forces.
“Our partnership with the U.S. Olympic Committee will aid in their recovery by allowing them to engage in therapeutic sporting events and competition right in their own communities. Many of our veterans have experienced traumatic injuries while at the peak of their physical conditioning,” Eric K. Shinseki, secretary of VA, stated in a press release.
Funding will be provided to the Olympic Committee’s member organizations, Paralympic sports clubs and veteran and military organizations nationwide to implement community-based, physical activity programs for disabled veterans and disabled members of the Armed Forces.
“This support from Veterans Affairs will have far reaching impact in communities around the country,” Charlie Huebner, chief of U.S. Paralympics stated. “We know that sports and physical activity can have a transformative effect on those with a physical disability. These funds will help our community partners to expand and provide greater access to sports programs for injured Veterans, disabled members of the Armed Forces and all living in their local area with a physical disability.”
Additionally, Christopher J. Nowak has been selected to be the director of the VA Paralympics Program office.
Since 1999, Nowak has served as a prosthetics manager for VA Healthcare Veterans Integrated Service Network 4, which includes Pennsylvania, Delaware and parts of West Virginia, New Jersey and New York. A 17-year veteran of VA, he directs a $92-million budget and all prosthetics operations for 10 VA medical centers.
Nowak joined the Marine Corps 1983. His military career ended in 1987, when the then-infantry squad leader lost his right leg to friendly fire during a routine training exercise.