Veteran Affairs Partnerships
In 2007, U.S. Paralympics, a division of the United States Olympic Committee, was asked by Congress and veteran service organizations to lead an integrated adaptive sports program to ensure that physical activity opportunities exist for wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans at the community level.
The program combines funding from the Department of Veterans Affairs with financial and programmatic support from the USOC and its partner organizations to provide service members and veterans with Paralympic sport programming throughout the country.
As of January 2014, the USOC designated 198 local service providers in 48 states and Washington D.C. as Paralympic Sport Clubs, with several dedicated only to providing service members and veterans with sports opportunities.
While the program targets grassroots programming, wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans have competed for Team USA at the 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2014 Paralympic Games. At the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games, 16 service members and veterans competed while five participated in the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games. The number increased to 20 for the London 2012 Paralympic Games and 18 for the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games.
Overall program highlights include:
- More than 250 Paralympic Sport Clubs or community sport organizations are currently providing programs for service members and veterans, with 198 recognized as official Paralympic Sport Clubs
- More than 850 leaders and organizations have been provided training, technical assistance or other ongoing support to develop or expand existing programs for service members and veterans
- More than 8,200 wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans participated in programming made possible by the partnership
- As of 2013, the partnership has provided 297 grants to community based organizations totaling more than $13.8 million
In addition to grant support for partner organizations and U.S. Paralympics operated programs, the USOC continues to collaborate with VA on an ongoing outreach and awareness effort to inform wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans and their family members about the program, providing them with direction on how to become involved in adaptive sports programs in their area.