The strain of returning from active military duty to civilian life can be taxing under the best of circumstances. When a major injury is involved, the process can seem insurmountable. One of the most dangerous elements is isolation: If veterans find themselves alone, apart from their friends, family and communities, their quality of life may suffer tremendously. Fortunately, there are programs and events designed to bring wounded and disabled vets together and create meaningful opportunities for them to interact and enjoy life again.

Healing with sports
The Associated Press recently spotlighted a camp in Rhode Island that helps former military personnel reclaim their lives via sports and recreation as they cope with a variety of serious ailments. Called the Veterans Affairs New England Summer Sports Clinic, it features both land- and water-based events. Some of the visitors to the camp have spinal injuries that impair motor function. Others have lost limbs or vision.

Not all of the wounds are physical in nature, as mental health ailments are also treated at the retreat. In addition to addressing a wide range of disabilities, the program accepts vets of all ages – as of this year's July session, the youngest were in their 20s and the oldest over 80.

According to the news provider, there are a number of related sports organizations around the country, overseen by the Department of Veterans Affairs. The Rhode Island camp is operated by the Providence VA Medical Center and the VA Boston Healthcare System. The camp has been held for seven years now, and keeps in contact with local organizations to present its many sports options. It is followed by a winter edition, which takes place in New Hampshire and focuses on snow sports.

"Some of the more traditional activities that occur in VA hospitals, bingo, card playing, those sorts of things, while those are nice, we had a young generation that came out of the battlefield," Richard Leeman, Boston-area assistant chief of voluntary services, told the AP. "They wanted to do the things they did prior to their injury."

Golf has proven to act as a form of therapy.Golf has proven to act as a form of therapy.

Golf acts as therapy
Rochester, New York-based TV station WHAM recently spotlighted another instance of wounded veterans improving their lives through sports. The Simpson Cup, a golf tournament doubling as a form of therapy for disabled vets, is set to take place at the Oak Hill Country Club this autumn.

The event includes teams of former service members from the United States and United Kingdom and acts as both mental and physical rehabilitation. The themes of competition and teamwork are both present in the golf tournament, but the gradual pace of the game allows it to double as a relaxing experience, one that can help vets heal.

Wherever sports events are being held for disabled veterans, the organizers are doubtless hoping for similar results: to help individuals return to fulfilling lives despite the injuries that have befallen them during their service. Golf competitions, summer sports clinics and winter sports camps are a few notable examples, but there are many more – based on the needs of vets in the area, just about any game can help.