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March 24, 2009
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The vets are coming, the vets are coming

As evidence of what President Barack Obama called America's "unyielding commitment" to our nation's veterans, more than 400 severely injured veterans - 34 of whom hail from Colorado - will take part in the 23rd National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic from March 29 through April 3. It is the largest adaptive event of its kind in the world.

It's based at the Silvertree Hotel and Conference Center, with activities scheduled on the mountain, the mall and throughout the Roaring Fork Valley.

Come and show your support for the veterans by signing a poster board located this week at the ticket pavilion on the Snowmass Mall that's being organized by the Town of Snowmass Village's special events department.

Hosted by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and co-sponsored by the Disabled American Veterans (DAV), the clinic teaches veterans with disabilities in adaptive alpine and Nordic skiing, and introduces them to a number of other adaptive recreational activities and sports. It's open to U.S. military veterans with traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, orthopedic amputations, visual impairments, certain neurological problems and other disabilities who receive care at a VA medical facility or military treatment center.

This year's clinic will feature a record number of participants, including many who served in the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki said that he will attend this year's event and is "looking forward to celebrating the triumph of the human spirit over both physical adversity and fear of failure." He believes that the clinic, and the volunteers who work with veterans during it, "give so many young veterans a glimpse of what is possible if they keep hope alive. I know of few greater gifts one can bestow on others."

Entertainment will be provided by singer Taylor Dayne, honorary chairperson Bo Derek and Rich Franklin, the "Ultimate Fighter," who will be visiting with the veterans. The week-long clinic opens with the Taste of Snowmass on Sunday, followed by opening ceremonies in the conference center ballroom.

Throughout the next five days, veterans will enjoy snowmobliing and cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, scuba diving, rock climbing, archery, curling, fly fishing and more. Workshops focus on everything from music therapy to strengthening your emotional muscles to creative writing courses. Friday, April 3, features a race day on the Spider Sabich course.

An estimated 200 certified ski instructors for the disabled and several current and former members of the U.S. Disabled Ski Team will serve as instructors to meet the unique needs of the participants.

"Now, more than ever, we need events like the Winter Sports Clinic to challenge and inspire our wounded Veterans," stated DAV National Commander Raymond E. Dempsey. "The complexity of the injuries suffered by some of our newest disabled veterans and the health issues facing our aging veterans make necessary the most creative and engaging recreational rehabilitation."


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The Aspen Times Updated Mar 24, 2009 06:33PM Published Mar 24, 2009 06:33PM Copyright 2009 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.