Friday, March 21, 2014

Healthy Futures for Wounded Veterans: Project INVEST and CVN AmeriCorps


By: Mark Mann, Summit Institute Program Director

CVN AmeriCorps members, Sean Busse and
Danielle Goldman, play wheelchair basketball with
Project INVEST participants.
The Summit Institute partners with Texas Woman’s University to place students as CVN AmeriCorps members serving through adapted physical education initiatives. One such initiative is Project INVEST (Injured Veterans Entering Sports Training).

Project INVEST was founded in 2012 as a response to the growing needs of veterans in the Denton, Texas area. The goal of the program is to “...offer a variety of individual and group programs for servicemen and women and their families. These programs are designed to improve and promote overall well-being and independence resulting from a physically active lifestyle.” (http://www.twu.edu/project-invest/services.asp)

Studies from the U.S. Department ofVeterans Affairs show that adaptive sports help to reduce stress as well as dependency on pain and depression medication. They also promote independence and achievement in education and employment, thereby helping veterans through the difficult transition back into civilian life.

Last year, Captain Norma Cabanas of the North Texas Army Reserve Unit wished to start a Warrior Games program to engage local wounded veterans in the U.S. Paralympic games. Captain Cabanas called on the expertise of Summit Institute for guidance and assistance. Answering this call for help, CVN AmeriCorps members at the Summit Institute stepped up to coach participants in how to play paralympic sports such as goalball, sitting volleyball and wheelchair soccer.

Summit Institute AmeriCorps member, Krystal Paul, has really enjoyed her time serving with the Warrior Games initiative. She said, "Working with veterans who are disabled has truly been an inspiration to me. Through all adversity they prevail, teaching us that life goes on as normal regardless of our appearance."  

One veteran who has benefited greatly from the leadership of CVN AmeriCorps members at Project INVEST is retired Army combat medic Clint Musgrove. He says, "All thumbs up, I really see how the application of these programs is helping us. Before getting involved here, I didn't know there were games or activities like this. This has been a really great experience." 

In total, CVN Americorps members have served nearly 500 servicemen and women through Project INVEST and the Warrior Games. It has been a rich and rewarding experience for CVN AmeriCorps members and warriors alike.