One run down the mountain on adaptive ski equipment gave Chris his life back.
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One run down the mountain on adaptive ski equipment gave Chris his life back.

January 14, 2020

[MUSIC]>>TEXT: Chris, Coast Guard
Veteran, Explore VA, Health Care.>>SPEAKING: Hi. My name’s Chris.
I served in the Coast Guard from ’79 to ’83 — and would still be
in had we not gone down in a plane crash that put me in a
wheelchair. I went to the Palo Alto VA at the spinal cord unit.
And those people were fantastic. They even still talk to me today
because I was not a happy camper, let me tell you. Those
first couple years for me, of learning how to be in a
wheelchair and figuring out what the indignities of being in a
wheelchair are, were such a shock to my system. And to be so
sedentary now and so limited in what I could do just, for me it
was absolutely devastating. It was the first Veterans Winter
Sports Clinic, and the recreational therapist there
asked me if I wanted to go skiing. And for a week he had to
keep pestering me to get me to say yes. But when I did, it was
two turns — one right turn and one left turn — and I had my
life back. But it gave me the drive to want to be healthy
again. And it gave me the drive to want to talk to people again
and want to help people again. For me, as a disabled Veteran,
being able to go to the VA — and I go to White River junction
VA in Vermont. And I know the people there. I’ve been going
for years. But even the very first day I went there and I
didn’t know them, I was going to my community. And for me, in the
beginning a lot of it was having the courage to ask. To say: I
have a problem and I need a new cushion. I have a flat and I
need somebody to teach me how to run this wheelchair. I need
somebody to talk to so that I can vent and I don’t vent at the
poor person that’s trying to open a door for me. Just having
that courage and knowing that I can go to the VA hospital and I
can talk to my doctor, or I can talk to a therapist, or I can
talk to the PT department or somebody and they can
problem-solve with me. Not for me, but with me, to create a
plan to deal with what’s happening so that I can still
maintain the kind of life I want to lead, not the kind of life
that’s been dealt me.>>TEXT: Don’t miss out on
benefits you may have earned.

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