‘I may have to sit, but I don’t have to sit still:’ Paralyzed Army Veteran stays active through adaptive sports

VAntagePoint Story by Heather King

Army Veteran Brent King has returned for his fifth go at the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic.

“The clinic recharges my batteries,” said the 47-year-old from Washington state.

King is one of more than 400 Veterans participating at the clinic April 1-6 in Snowmass, Colorado.

He was 23 when a training accident changed his life forever. While maneuvering through an obstacle course, Brent fell 18 feet from a rope and landed on the hard Georgia clay. He woke up 21 days later paralyzed. He was discharged from the Army and returned to his family’s cattle farm in Davenport, Washington.

That’s when things got really tough.

“I was watching TV all night and sleeping all day,” he said.

His family was desperate and looking for anything to stop the downward spiral. Finally, Brent’s father, along with the chief of prosthetics at the Spokane VA Medical Center, devised a plan to get him out of bed.

It was 1995 when King says he received an envelope containing a non-refundable airline ticket in the mail. He was headed to his first Winter Sports Clinic and saying “no” was not an option.

He says he was welcomed with open arms, open hearts and a dedicated team committed to helping him reach his unlimited potential.

“After my first day of skiing, my ‘pity party’ was gone. I found something that motivated me to move forward. It helped to be surrounded by a great group of fellow disabled Veterans with smiles on their faces.”

Today, King is a different person. He admits the clinic “instantly changed my outlook on life.”

He loves seeing familiar faces each year, and keeping up with the technological advances in mono-ski gear. He says he never allows his injuries to confine him to a life on the couch. He is a successful business man, father and husband.

If you’re looking for King you will find him outdoors or doing something to help his fellow disabled Veterans, “I may have to sit, but I don’t have to sit still.”

About the National Disabled Winter Sports Clinic

Co-hosted by DAV and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic promotes sports therapy and rehabilitation through adaptive Alpine and Nordic skiing, rock climbing, wheelchair self-defense, sled hockey, scuba diving and other adaptive sports and activities. The five-day event in Snowmass, Colorado is a world leader in adaptive winter sports instruction for ill and injured Veterans and their families. Be inspired at wintersportsclinic.org

About the Author: Heather King is a technical career field trainee for public Affairs at VA’s VISN 9. She is an Air Force Veteran and Tillman Scholar. 



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