Sports help injured veterans - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Sports help injured veterans

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(12/10/12) - Nearly 50,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are living with injuries from war. Many of them have lost limbs or suffer some type of paralysis. Now, many of these injured veterans are finding hope, through sports - sometimes even extreme sports. Surfing, kayaking, climbing and more are helping our wounded warriors adjust to post-war life.

"I had major depressive disorder," says Steven Bradford, who was a sniper in Baghdad. During recon missions, he had close calls with 15  IED's.

Now, he's learning how to throw shot-put from U.S. paralympic world record holder, Scott Winkler. Winkler was paralyzed while serving in Iraq. Now, he works with fellow paralympians, teaching wounded warriors about living life without limbs and without pity.

"I didn't know what to expect in life. I felt like I wasn't a soldier anymore. I didn't know. I was angry," Winkler says.

But his new passion is helping him through. "If you believe, you can achieve."

Dan Thornhill lost his legs in a car bombing in Afghanistan. "This is the first time I've been in one of these racing chairs."

Paralympian Cece Mazyck is teaching Thornhill how to race. Mazyck lost the use of her legs in a parachuting accident. "When I jumped out, I got entangled with another jumper."

ARMY vet and amputee, John Register, runs the veterans programs for the US Olympic committee.

He says learning a new sport saved him and he believes it will save others. "We have to get them to change their perspective about their situation."

It is inspiration through rehabilitation, says Bradford, "you can do it. Just never give up."

Being physical is a huge part of the healing process," Mazyck says, "there is life after injury."

The VA sponsors six national rehabilitation events each year and you don't have to be a paralympian to take part in the adaptive sports programs.

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