Of Note

USABA Program Targets Visually Impaired Veterans

The United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA) recently rolled out a new program to encourage participation by visually impaired veterans in local adaptive sporting and athletic events.

The program, known as the Community Sports Integration Project, has been made possible through a VA adaptive sports grant. It funds registration (entry fees) and travel to visually impaired veterans as they participate in competitive or recreational sports in their local and regional communities. The funding comes through reimbursements to veterans.

Mileage stipends will be considered for events more than 50 miles away but will be capped at $75. After receiving approval to participate in an event, the veteran will receive a packet along with USABA apparel that he/she is expected to wear during the event and a call to share a photo on social media.

The events covered include: 5K to marathon foot races, cycling, triathlons (Spring and Olympic distance only), powerlifting meets, rowing regattas, challenge events such as Tuff Mudders and Warrior Dashes, swim meets, and other competitions and tournaments for golf, bowling, and sailing.

Any visually impaired veteran may apply, regardless of age or location. The purpose can be recreational or competitive. Funding is available for any event beginning July 1 through September 30, 2017.

For more information and the project guidelines, contact Project Coordinators Timothy Hornik (785-330-3503, timothy.hornik@gmail.com) or Ryan Ortiz (rortiz@usaba.org).

D-Day Reenacted In Northern Ohio

Featuring more than 1,800 reenactors from across the United States and Canada, spectators will witness men, women, and their machines perform a living tribute to the veterans of World War II through dress, mock battles, and living history displays.

The three-day event is the 19th annual reenactment of D-Day and the invasion of Normandy, France, on the Lake Erie shores of Conneaut, Ohio, August 17-19, in Conneaut Township Park. Admission is free for what many observers have called the most realistic and educational D-Day reenactment of the World War II era.

Spectators have an unobstructed view of the battlefield.

A special invitation is always extended to World War II veterans to attend the event, where they are publicly recognized and honored. Last year more than 150 World War II veterans attended. Attending veterans from other eras are also recognized.

D-Day Conneaut began in 1999 when a small group of reenactors set out to “relive the day” of the Normandy invasion on the beach of Conneaut Park. Although it was not a public event initially, more than 20,000 spectators have recently attended. The program has expanded with a Friday evening of musical entertainment, a morning combat scenario, and the appearance of a World War II landing craft aka a Higgins Boat during the beach invasion battle.

Project Healing Waters Offers Support, Rehab

Wounded military service members at Walter Reed Army Medical Center returning from Iraq and Afghanistan beginning in 2005 were the benefactors of a therapeutic program of fly fishing and other associated activities dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled active military personnel and disabled veterans.

Since then, Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing (PHWFF) has expanded nationwide, establishing its program in Department of Defense hospitals, Warrior Transition Units, and VA Medical Centers and Outpatient Clinics.

PHWFF has become recognized as a leader and model in the field of therapeutic outdoor recreation through applying the sport of fly fishing as a rehabilitation tool.

PHWFF’s next major event, The Smoky Mountain Grand Slam Challenge, will be held October 6-7 in greater Knoxville, Tennessee. Now in its fourth year, the event consists of a fly fishing tournament and banquet to support the thousands of injured and disabled veterans the organization serves annually. It features 12 injured and disabled veterans from around the Tennessee Valley paired with some of the area’s best guides in fishing for brown trout, brook trout, and rainbow trout on the renowned Clinch River.

For testimonials and additional information about programs and their locations, visit www.projecthealingwaters.org.

Foundation Reconnects Vets to Shooting Sports

Jonathan French, a combat wounded Purple Heart recipient, has created a mechanical sighting system that mounts on any firearm, muzzleloader, or crossbow that is equipped with one-inch scope rings.

The patented French Visually Impaired Sighting System (VISS) enables a blind or visually impaired veteran, with the help of a spotter, to participate in and enjoy shooting and hunting sports by accurately engaging targets in excess of 200 meters.

“While recovering at Walter Reed I witnessed a lot of incredible soldiers working on adjusting to their injuries,” said French. “Many of us were just trying to figure out how and where we could move forward.”

An avid outdoorsman prior to his injury, French said he returned to the outdoors after some prodding and rediscovered his true identity, restoring the passion in life that he was missing.

“Realizing the therapeutic effects of shooting and hunting in my own recovery, I started the MA French Foundation, which provides the VISS free of charge to blind and visually impaired combat wounded veterans.”

The system is also available at cost to all veterans and on sale to visually impaired sportsmen and women.

The French VISS is also endorsed and partially funded by hunting legend Jim Shockey.

For additional information, visit http://www.mafrenchfoundation.com.

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