Leveling the playing field: Innovative recreation opportunities available for wounded Soldiers
May 31, 2011
WHILE providing premier recreation opportunities for Soldiers returning from combat is a challenge, it is particularly difficult for Soldiers who were wounded in combat.
To help meet the recreational needs of the Army’s wounded warriors, 180 recreation professionals participated in a course called Inclusive Recreation for Wounded Warriors.
The four-day course, provided by the Pennsylvania State University Outreach Programs, is designed to train staff to successfully integrate active-duty wounded warriors into existing morale, welfare and recreation programs and services.
“The course involves the ability to recognize the unique needs and characteristics of wounded warriors and be able to respond to their needs,” said Sandra Nordenhold, chief of MWR recreation programs. “The course focuses on the real-life needs of wounded warriors and their Families, and offers personal perspectives by individuals who have experienced a psychological or physical disability.”
The course was developed in response to increased demand for installation recreation staff to understand how recreation can help wounded troops and their Families cope after long deployments and lengthy hospital stays, she added.
“Appropriate inclusive recreation programming is beneficial in helping the injured, the spouse and the children adjust to and thrive in their new-found situation,” said Nordenhold. “By adapting equipment and instituting inclusive recreation programming, it also allows the wounded warrior to participate in a recreational activity with his or her Family, where it may not have been possible before. It brings Families together and makes a Soldier more resilient.”
FMWRC plans to continue implementing this inclusion philosophy into its programs and will send an additional 180 recreation professionals to attend the course in the next few years.
Some steps being taken to implement this program across the Army garrisons include: the purchase of adapted wheelchairs in Hawaii to ensure wounded warriors can access the beach; inclusive horseback riding at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, and Fort Campbell, Ky.; and the purchase of adaptive bicycles and paving of fishing areas for easier accessibility at Rock Island Arsenal, Ill. A partnership is also being developed with the National Amputee Golf Association to bring an amputee clinic to Fort Sill, Okla.