The energy was palpable. The excitement ran high. Hundreds of athletes gathered in Cincinnati, Ohio, earlier this month to compete in the world’s largest wheelchair games, the 37th annual National Veterans Wheelchair Games (NVWG).
The games, presented by the Department of Veterans Affairs and Paralyzed Veterans of America, empower veterans who have suffered spinal cord injuries, amputations, and other neurological injuries while serving in the armed forces and encourage them to live an active and healthy lifestyle by participating and competing in 18 events at the NVWG. The games can get competitive, but they help veterans rehabilitate through sports and connect with other veterans.
“NVWG is a life-changing event. It opened up a bigger connection for me with other people in wheelchairs,” said Jeff DeLeon, who received the Spirit of the Games Award at last year’s National Veterans Wheelchair Games. “I look forward to getting together with old friends and meeting new people. The Games showcase our independence and ability to do the things people think can’t be done by someone in a wheelchair. The more people see us doing it, the more normal it becomes. That’s how I’ve lived my life since the injury, pushing those limits.”
That’s why AFGE is proud to take part in the program for the first time this year. We were there to show support for our veterans at the Duke Energy Convention Center as an exhibitor on July 17.
Besides cheering on the athletes, AFGE provided information on legislation that would have an impact on veterans, and federal employees, of which one in three are veterans. AFGE also collected 1,000 legislative postcards that say, “Don’t Touch My VA!” that will be delivered to members of Congress on Capitol Hill. The event was a great success as we got to hear from veterans about the great care and services they receive from their VA.
Our veterans have served our country with distinction all over the world. But let’s face it – when many veterans come home to their families, their needs aren't being met. They need jobs. They need quality, affordable health care. In short, they need people in their corner to make sure our country honors its promise to those who have served.
AFGE VETERANS is a special group of AFGE members who are veterans or are a family member of a veteran. They are a group of veterans who come together to welcome other veterans to the workplace, to our union, and speak out on the issues that matter to them and their families. If you are a veteran or family member of a veteran, consider joining and lending your special voice. Join us today!