USA Judo's Myles Porter Introduces Injured Vets to Judo

By Ernest Pund | Sept. 17, 2013, 4:48 p.m. (ET)

Paralympic Silver Medalist Porter: “a great and humbling honor.”

More than 150 U.S. Military Veterans from across the country are attending introductory judo classes led by Paralympic Silver Medalist Myles Porter at the 6th annual multi-sport National Veterans Summer Sports Clinic held at the US Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, CA, this week.

“Working with this military group is a great and humbling honor,” said Porter. Some of the veterans he trained had combat spinal injuries. Others had post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and visual impairments. “Not only do I get to meet the men and women who sacrificed for this amazing country, I also get to help spread the sport and make it better.”

The multi-sport clinic includes sailing, surfing, track and field, cycling in addition to judo, all of it geared toward introducing injured veterans to the possibilities available in these sports.

“What we hope is that these veterans will decide to continue the judo at home,” said Marc Vink, Team Leader of USA Judo’s Paralympic Adaptive Sports Program for injured veterans. With money from a U.S. Olympic Committee grant, USA Judo will get the veterans in clubs near their homes, buy them gis and USA Judo memberships so they have insurance on the mats. “We make it easy for them, remove some of the barriers,” Vink said.

The clinics serve as a basic introduction to adapted judo for Veteran's with a wide range of combat injuries, including PTSD, traumatic brain injury, blindness, poly trauma and physical challenges.  Research demonstrates that adaptive sports are excellent for Veteran's seeking to keep nimble, physically and mentally alert, and gain coordination of motion and thoughts, Vink said.

Currently, USA Judo's Paralympic Adaptive Sports program is providing a wide range of resources to active clubs in Chicago, Washington DC, Philadelphia, San Diego and coming soon to Denver.

Judo instructors at this week’s clinics include Vink, Porter and retired Navy Chief Joe Ciokon and retired U.S. Marine Gerald Lafon, both involved with the veterans community in San Diego.

If you are interested in starting a Paralympic Adaptive Sports program, contact Denise Thomas at the National Office (719) 866-4732.