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Grant Enables Disabled Wyoming Military Veterans More Access to Sports Activities

September 22, 2016

Disabled military veterans across Wyoming will gain access to more sports activities as a result of a $200,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Albany County, in partnership with the Wyoming Consortium for Veterans Activities, was awarded a $200,735 Adaptive Sports Grant to assist disabled Wyoming veterans. Located at the University of Wyoming, the Wyoming Institute for Disabilities (WIND) is a member of that consortium.

WIND will provide expertise related to access and assistive technology to the grant consortium through training and technical assistance for coaches, equipment coordination and outreach efforts.

The grant is part of a $7.8 million competitive grant initiative from the VA. The grant will support adaptive sports and recreation for veterans and active duty military.

According to the VA, funding may be used for a wide range of activities, from preparing high-level athletes for Paralympic competition to supporting activities such as rowing, cycling, equestrian sports and Tai Chi.

Approximately 10,108 veterans living in Wyoming are currently receiving VA benefits, according to latest data from the VA. To date, current veteran’s sports activities are serving less than 1 percent of the population.

“This is a great move forward with a population we have been eager to serve,” says Sandy Root-Elledge, WIND executive director. “We are excited to join our statewide partners to carry out the mission of this grant.”

Marty Martinez, senior project coordinator for the UW Veterans Services Center, notes the importance of serving veterans on campus.

“As our veterans and military personnel attend UW and begin the transition to civilian life, many can encounter new difficulties or challenges, from physical or mental health injury, limitation or disability as a result of their military service,” Martinez says. “By providing training, coaching, services and adaptive equipment to support these veterans, we can increase the health and quality of life of our students --and all veterans -- who choose to participate in the program.”

Other partners for the grant consortium are the Wyoming Veterans of Foreign War, the Wyoming National Guard, the Veterans Commission, Casper Vet Center, Wyoming Veterans Services Center, Teton Adaptive Sports, Albany County School District 1, U.S. Biathlon Association, U.S. Paralympics, Yellowstone Ski Festival, University of Fit 7220 and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

“We are proud to be a member of the consortium and look forward to working with our partners to better serve our veterans at the University of Wyoming and Albany County,” Martinez says.

WIND was established in 1994 as part of a national network of 67 University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities that provides support to more than 7,500 individuals with disabilities and their families in Wyoming.

For more information about the program and grant awardees, visit www.va.gov/adaptivesports.

For more information about WIND, contact Michele Mitchum at (307) 766-2995 or mmitchum@uwyo.edu.


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Chad Baldwin

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