VA sports program helps disabled SoCal veterans with physical activity, friendship

Jaysha Patel Image
Saturday, September 30, 2023
VA sports program helps disabled SoCal veterans
Veterans with disabilities participated in an adaptive sports event in Brentwood organized by the VA.

BRENTWOOD, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- For some veterans who were injured during their time in service, life after the military can be daunting - especially with a disability. That's why one event brought local vets together in Brentwood for a day of sports and fun.

Tennis, basketball, even blindfolded competition - all took place at Brentwood School where veterans used the campus for their inaugural adaptive sports invitational.

"We wanted to connect our veterans, offer them opportunities to utilize sports and, help promotion activities to improve their quality of life," said Myisha Jones, recreation therapy section manager.

The VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System hosted the first-ever local event and 50 to 75 veterans participated. Adaptive sports allow people of all skill levels and abilities to compete in recreational events.

The event was for veterans and people who have disabilities so they had a chance to work with coaches, try a new sport or hobby and meet others. Some veterans even compete on a national level

'My first national games was last year in Des Moines and the feeling that I got and the camaraderie in seeing all the veterans together - it's a different feeling. It just brought a lot of joy to them and to the staff that were taking of them," said Blessen Eapen, chief of physical medicine and rehab.

Coordinators say events like this one not only help promote healthy physical activity for veterans but also help their mental health and social lives. The VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System says they hope to do this every year and include more people next year.

"It's almost like a spark goes off when they feel like 'Oh I can do this again' and it's sometimes self-limiting," said Kris Eneberg-Boldon, program manager of rehab therapy. "They don't think they're able to. It's not about winning the game, it's about getting everything out of it - that we all benefit from sports."