Congressman Filner Introduces Bill to Provide Paralympics Programs to Disabled Veterans
Congressman Bob Filner (D-CA), Chairman of the House of Representatives Veterans' Affairs Committee, today announced that he has introduced H.R. 4255, the "United States Olympic Committee (USOC) Paralympic Program Act of 2007." This bill authorizes the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to provide grants to the USOC to plan and implement a Paralympic Program for veterans and members of the Armed Services.
"Paralympics, sports for the physically disabled, has origins in World War II when the paralympic movement offered sports as rehabilitation for injured veterans," said Chairman Filner. "The purpose of the program in my bill is to enhance the rehabilitation and quality of life of current severely-injured service members and veterans and to reduce the chance of secondary medical conditions."
The United States Olympic Committee is well-suited to plan and institute a Paralympic Program for our military and veterans. In 1998, Congress passed the "Olympic and Amateur Sports Act Amendments," which charged the USOC with the responsibility of assisting amateur athletic programs and competitions for athletes with disabilities. Since that time, USOC has led a resurgence in paralympic sports.
"When severely injured military began returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, the USOC began offering Paralympic Military Sports Camps at its training facilities, including at the USOC training facility in my district in Chula Vista, California," said Filner. "To date, more than 1,200 injured veterans have been introduced to paralympic sports as a result of these training programs. But with so many injured, much more needs to be done."
This legislation also requires the VA Secretary to conduct an outreach program to inform all disabled veterans about the existence of the Paralympic Program and to encourage their participation.