Ensures support for veterans training for both Olympic and Paralympic sports
Washington, D.C. - The U.S. Senate has passed an amendment introduced by Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet to provide support for disabled veterans competing in sports at an Olympic level.
Bennet's amendment expands a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) program that provides disabled veterans with a monthly assistance allowance to help defray the costs associated with competition, such as training, travel, and equipment. Currently, the monthly allowance is available only to qualified athletes training in Paralympic sports. The Bennet amendment would extend eligibility to disabled veterans competing at an elite level in Olympic sports.
The change would help Tracy Hines, a disabled veteran who lives in Bayfield, Colorado, while training to compete in an Olympic sport. Hines retired from the U.S. Army and is rated disabled by the VA with traumatic brain injury, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and lower extremity injuries. Since retirement, she has participated in the whitewater canoe slalom. For the past two years, she has competed at the national and international level, and is training for a spot on the U.S. Olympic team in the 2020 Summer Olympics. There is no Paralympic event in her category for her disability (PTSD/TBI).
"Tracy has risen above extraordinary barriers to compete at the highest level," Bennet said. "This commonsense change will support her and other disabled veteran athletes pursue their Olympic dreams."
Although training expenses, travel costs, equipment prices, and funding from national organizations vary across sports, athletes performing at the elite level face steep financial challenges. The VA National Veterans Sports Programs & Special Events Office provides a monthly assistance allowance to eligible disabled veterans who endeavor to qualify for National Teams and to compete competitively in the Paralympic games. Qualified athletes must have established training and competition plans, and meet standards for competition. Athletes are also responsible for turning in monthly and quarterly reports.