V-A programs helps injured Vets train for competition - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

VA programs help injured Vets train for competition

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 Right now, the Paralympic Games are underway in Sochi, Russia.

 Just like the Olympics, athletes from around the world are competing for gold, bronze and silver recognition and a sense of accomplishment.

 But these athletes have had to overcome physical limitations.

 Here in Sioux Falls, there is a program working to train para-athletes...some are military veterans who are looking to move beyond their illness or accident...and find something more.

 Stephen Bruggoman is like every other person at the gym, working to feel the burn and working up a good sweat. It's when you catch a glimpse of his right leg that you see his work-out is a little different. "On April first of 1983 I had a gunshot injury and it left me paralyzed below my knee on my right leg..ultimately ending in 2003 to an amputation below my knee of my right leg."

 His Coast Guard service didn't end the way he thought...and it changed his life is a way he didn't imagine. But his new reality is a good one....thanks in part to a sports training program through the Veterans Administration.

 "What we really haven't had is an adaptive sports program..." Brian Kaiser with the V-A says for years they've helped injured vets recover from injuries but didn't always give them something to work towards. This Adaptive Sports Program transforms injured vets into para-athletes. But this is about more than physical fitness or competition. "To see them be them...being successful and being confident and getting back to being in the community and being social..those are the goals of the program that we have."

 "You feel...you feel empowered." Stephen says being able to train like this and use that training in competition...has completely changed his way of thinking about his accident and all those surgeries.
 this literally has allowed him to get back into the game....no matter what that game might be. "We can do the same thing everybody else can do, we just have to do it a little bit different."

 This program is available through the Sioux Falls Veterans Administration. If you would like more information, call the Veterans Administration Recreational Therapy Office at 605-336-3230.

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