2012 NATIONAL AWARD-WINNING PROGRAM
GOVERNOR HUGH L. CAREY AWARD RECIPIENT
There are 2.3 million veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars—heroes who embody the spirit of America through strength, leadership, trust, service and volunteerism.
Tens of thousands more troops are now returning home from this region as the American presence there winds down. However, integrating back into the community presents a challenge to
the service members who are returning with life-changing physical injuries.
San Diego-based Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) launched Operation Rebound in 2004 to provide adaptive sports equipment, sports prosthetics, training, mentoring and competition expenses for active duty service members, veterans and first responders (police, firefighters and paramedics) who have suffered permanent physical injuries as a result of their service.
Using sports as the next step in the rehabilitation process, Operation Rebound has helped nearly 1,400 injured service members to reactivate their competitive spirit and pursue goals as big as competing in the Paralympics and as important as being able to chase their children around
Much of Operation Rebound’s outreach takes place in collaboration with the Military Medical Center Physical Training Program (MMCPT) and its partner hospitals across the country. For example, Operation Rebound and the Naval Medical Center San Diego came together in 2008 to form a surf program supported by local lifeguards to help a military amputee learn to surf. What began as a way to support just one serviceman is now a regular part of the rehabilitation for many troops and veterans who have experienced traumatic injuries. Today, the weekly clinic includes a cadre of volunteers who provide one-on-one instruction in surfing, kayaking and paddle boarding.
“Participating in sports often gives injured servicemen and women freedom of mobility before they even get their walking legs,” explains Nico Marcolongo, CAF Operation Rebound Program Manager. “It demonstrates that they not only have the ability to overcome their challenges but also to set a strong example for what is possible. That’s exactly what they did in the military. They’re still leading. CAF Operation Rebound is proud to support all who have served.”
Challenged Athletes Foundation
Naval Medical Center San Diego
Brooke Army Medical Center—Center for the Intrepid
Other military medical centers and veterans hospitals throughout the country