By Hans Petersen
Tuesday, August 11, 2015
Army Veteran Ron Paul and hundreds of other senior soldiers are in Omaha, Neb. this week for the National Veterans Golden Age Games.
Paul, who played minor league baseball for the New York Yankees, says, “I think it helps keep a lot of guys out of the hospital.”
The games, now in their 29th year, offer sports and recreational competitive events for Veterans 55 years of age and older. It is the largest sports and recreation competition for this age group of military Veterans in the world and continue to serve as a showcase for the rehabilitation value that wellness and fitness provide in the lives of older Americans.
A medic in the Army Reserve, Paul was a standout hitter and center fielder in the Yankees‘ minor league system until he was called up during the Berlin Crisis in 1961. He talks here about how the games complement his healthy life style and fuel his drive for competition.
The National Veterans Golden Age Games, taking place this year Aug. 8-12, is the premier senior adaptive rehabilitation program in the United States, and the only national multi-event sports and recreational seniors‘ competition program designed to improve the quality of life for all older Veterans, including those with a wide range of abilities and disabilities. The VA Challenges and encourages senior Veterans to be proactive in embracing a healthier lifestyle.
A “fountain of youth” for America’s rapidly aging Veteran population.
“The games help our Veterans maintain active and healthy lifestyles, and provide them the unique camaraderie of being surrounded by fellow Veterans who share common bonds of service,” said Carla Carmichael, director, National Veterans Golden Age Games. “Through sports and exercise programs and healthy living initiatives, VA continues a long history of providing Veterans with opportunities to stay active, healthy and involved.”
Events at the games include:
- Air Rifle
- Table Tennis
A “fountain of youth” for America‘s rapidly aging Veteran population, the games provide a multi-event sports and therapeutic recreation program for eligible Veterans receiving care at any VA medical facility. They reflect VA’s mission — to provide quality programs and health care for older Veteran population.
Over the years, competitive events at the Golden Age Games have been adapted to meet specific needs of the participants. There are separate age groups and gender divisions and because many Veterans also face medical challenges, events were added for those who use wheelchairs and those who have visual impairments.
To accommodate the varying degrees of physical conditioning, motor and cognitive skills of the participants, basic competition rules were adapted. The modification of rules and use of adaptive equipment in many events allow non-ambulatory and visually impaired Veterans to participate.
This has made the National Veterans Golden Age Games a truly adaptive therapeutic sports competition that has become a model for other local, state and national senior sports events.
And as Veteran Paul describes it, “It‘s a total wellness program. You get physical exercise, mental exercise and I think spiritual in the sense of the camaraderie and fellowship with your teammates. I think it keeps a lot guys out of the hospital.”
See photos of the 2015 National Veterans Golden Age Games at Omaha on Flickr.