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VA NY Harbor Health Care System


Calling Adventure Seeking Veterans

Photo of Physical Therapist Dr. Leif Nelson

Physical Therapist Dr. Leif Nelson

Monday, June 27, 2011


Kayaking and sailing on the Hudson River may be just what the doctor ordered.

Heroes on the Hudson is the first Department of Veterans Affairs Adaptive Sports Clinic - to be held in Manhattan - on July 15 at 9 a.m. just off Manhattan’s west side at Pier 66 in the Hudson River. This event is sponsored by VA NY/NJ Prosthetics and Sensory Aids Service along with Wounded Warrior Project.  It has been modeled after the National Disabled Veterans Summer Sports Clinic, but with the backdrop of the world’s most famous skyline. The impact of such a clinic may best be described by Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki: “I have seen [the National Disabled Veterans Summer Sports Clinic] up close and have witnessed its life-changing effects on the Veterans who participate,” said Shinseki. “Helping these veterans rediscover their capabilities is why this clinic was started.”

“I’m looking forward to our Heroes on the Hudson event because it’s really a way to help our New York and New Jersey Veterans both physically and mentally,” said Physical Therapist Dr. Leif Nelson, Clinical Coordinator for VISN3 Prosthetics program based at VA’s Manhattan campus.

Talking about participants in the upcoming sports program, Nelson said, "These are tough people who’ve fought wars, so even if they are not experienced with kayaks or sailboats, we know they are going to conquer the challenge.  Plus, we've got the top instructors in the region." Nelson said the VA was particularly interested in working with the Wounded Warriors Project on the event because that group focuses on younger Veterans who have been discharged since 2001.  "There’s a real sense of accomplishment in participating in this kind of event for Veterans who have lost a limb or have other disabilities; the water can really level the playing field," said Nelson.

Events at the rehabilitation clinic include both adaptive kayaking and sailing. There will also be educational and safety lectures to provide a holistic experience. During this full-day event, participants will have the opportunity to form strong bonds and relationships with fellow Veterans in an atmosphere that promotes both physical and mental wellness.

Participation is open to military Veterans who are eligible for VA medical care and have orthopedic amputations, traumatic brain injuries, burn injuries, psychological trauma, certain neurological conditions, visual impairment, or other injuries. This target audience includes Veterans with injuries that are not always apparent to the general observer.  Hudson River Community Sailing is a nonprofit organization dedicated to developing leadership in New York City youth through sailing education and providing maritime recreation to the community at large.

For more information about the Heroes on the Hudson event or VA Prosthetics Service, contact Dr. Leif Nelson at (212) 686-7500, ext. 4252. For more information on the Wounded Warrior Project, contact Becky Melvin at (904) 296-7350.



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