In honor of Veterans Day today we wanted to highlight two programs run by occupational therapists that are helping veterans heal through the power of occupations.

In both cases, the programs are using sports to engage veterans.

Surfing Program for Veterans

OT Carly Rogers uses surfing lessons to help veterans get out of the house and participate in life again. Listen to her share the story of her program in our podcast here. A few quotes we love:

Veterans are looking for an adrenaline rush when they get home. “Many of them their current occupations were: drinking, going to the bar, or staying home with doors locked, playing video games,” says Rogers. “Okay, wait a second. We need to get you outside. We need to get you participating in life again.

A couple of quotes from participants:

“You know in combat you wait and you wait and then you engage in this intense firefight. And then in surfing, you wait and you wait and then you engage in this pure natural adrenaline rush.”

“I’m tired of talking about the past. I want to start today. I want to look forward. I want to surf. I want to live again.”

Adaptive Skiing for Veterans

SkiingMeanwhile, OT Kristina Sabasteanksi (who is an Olympian and an Army vet herself) started a program that had vets participate in adaptive sports like skiing. Read about the adaptive skiing program here.

Skiing is great because during winter it can be difficult to get out of the house when it’s cold, icy, snowing, and there’s less daylight.

“Normally all the days blend in because a lot of them aren’t working,” says Sabasteanksi. “But they always remember Wednesday, because Wednesday is the day of the program. It really gives them a reason to get out of the house in the winter.”

We love this quote from a participant:

“You know what, this is the first time I feel normal. When I walk, people look at me because I have a limp and I drag my foot and I have a cane. But when I’m skiing I’m like everybody else—I’m normal.”

Sabasteanski sums up the power of programs like the two featured here nicely: “It’s great because it just seems like a little thing—going skiing or biking—but they feel like themselves again.”


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