The BVL is committed to brightening and enriching veteran’s lives every day. With that in mind, the BVL has been a long time sponsor of the six VA Special Events — the Creative Arts Festival, the Training-Exposure-Experience Tournament, the Wheelchair Games, the Golden Age Games, and the Winter and Summer Sports Clinics. These programs illustrate clearly the BVL mission statement of bringing mental and physical invigoration to those that gave so much for our country.
The Creative Arts Festival is an all-encompassing celebration of the various arts from many of our talented veterans. There are a wide range of categories such as poetry, creative writing, dance, drama and acting, vocal and instrumental music for both solo and group. Held in Reno, Nev. this year, the Creative Arts Festival provides an opportunity for the veterans to express themselves.
“The BVL has been a sponsor of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Veterans Creative Arts Festival for years,” said Event Director Elizabeth Mackey, in praise of the BVL’s support for the Festival. “BVL understands how the arts make a major difference in the lives of America’s Veterans.”
Marie Reynolds, Association Manager of the Greater Reno Sparks USBC, attended the event this year and was enthused by the talented veterans, “I was so impressed with the art exhibit that the veterans were in, they were amazing! The show they put on was incredible. I cried through most of it, the performances were very touching. I believe that the veterans that were here are proud to be here, this event gives them the opportunity to display their crafts and how proud they are of this country!”
The Training-Exposure-Experience Tournament, also known as the TEE Tournament, is held in Iowa City, Ia., and provides numerous activities to disabled veterans. Sports — golf, kayak, bowling and horseback riding — are modified and adapted for veterans with disabilities that may not be able to enjoy those activities otherwise. Each year, the TEE Tournament provides these disabled veterans with friendship, camaraderie, and pride.
“Helping and watching these men and women of all ages enjoy these sports as we do is so rewarding,” Iowa State USBC BVL Chair Connie Rommel said about the event. “They have given their time to help us enjoy the lives we have today, it’s appropriate that we give back to them.”
Much like the TEE Tournament, the Summer and Winter Sports Clinics also provide the experience for disabled veterans to enjoy more seasonal activities where they usually cannot. The Summer Clinic, located in San Diego, Calif., offers adventure sports and recreational activities such as sailing, surfing, track and field events, kayaking and cycling.
“It’s so rewarding to see what the Summer Sports Clinic can do for our wounded veterans, who gave so much for us, so that we could continue to enjoy our life style while they were keeping us safe,” said San Diego-based BVL volunteer Lynn Graves. “We talked with some of the participants this year and they thanked us for the support, I said ‘thank you! But I believe we can and should do much more. We have stepped up our BVL campaign here in San Diego and I hope and pray we beat last year’s totals.”
The Winter Clinic, in Snowmass, Colo., facilitates veterans’ ability to participate in skiing, cross country, rock climbing, scuba diving, kayaking, and snowmobiling. Both seasonal clinics provide the same experience: to enrich and rehabilitate the lives of those that have given so much.
“Some activities/events our veterans may have never attempted, some they have done in the past, or some that they thought they would never be able to do again. They are able to take the lessons and skills learned at the various activities/events or clinics they attend and apply them at home,” Sandra Eckert of the Ft. Collins USBC said of the Winter Clinic. “They are shown that just because they may be suffering from an illness or injury there is no reason to give up or give in. In many instances the Clinic is considered one of the biggest motivators to get them out and lead an active lifestyle.”
Both Graves and Eckert join Rommel in recognizing the need for and value of these national competitions as a vehicle to get veterans engaged and involved in activities that will last a lifetime. Explains Rommel, “These programs – from the Wheelchair Games to the Golden Age Games – are open to all veterans from every state in the US. Help us help the veterans from your state by financially supporting these activities. Through National BVL, your association can ensure that these events will be available to veterans around the country.”