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Public Statements

National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. INSLEE. Mr. Chair, we're offering a simple amendment that will make it much easier for our wounded warriors to obtain access to adaptive recreational equipment. We have these proud men and women coming back from the field of battle with obviously very, very severe wounds; and what we have found is some of the best things they could do to get back with their lives and professional development is to have access to adaptive recreation, both services and equipment. And I know some of these folks do incredible things with paralysis skiing, with severe injuries riding adaptive bicycles, people who have lost their vision, wounded warriors getting back up on the slopes, and it has been a tremendous thing for these men and women to help restore their confidence, rebuild their strength, and get back into the swing of things.

Research has shown this works not only from a psychological but also from a physical standpoint. But we have a little glitch that, whereas our veterans through the Veterans Administration can have access to this adaptive equipment, such as monoskis and adaptive hand-cranked bikes, our wounded warriors haven't necessarily had the authorization to be provided that equipment who are on active duty. So my amendment would simply authorize the Department of Defense to make that available.

And I have been inspired by Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Dudek, who until today has been the commanding officer of the Warrior Transition Battalion at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Tacoma. He is moving on to continue this work here at the Pentagon. He lost some function in his limbs and has done a tremendous job helping wounded warriors get back going.

We'd like to extend this systemwide now, and this would authorize the DOD to do that.

So we would commend this as one step forward to helping our proud men and women regain their confidence, enjoy life and professional abilities. We commend this.

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For the young men and women who return from overseas with a severe injury or disability, recreational activities--spending time outdoors skiing or on the basketball court shooting hoops with friends--offer them a chance to forget their disability and focus on doing the things they love. Research has shown that engaging in physical activity regularly benefits wounded warriors' confidence and overall quality of life. Thanks to the incredible equipment available to these wounded warriors--such as ``mono-skis'' or sport
wheelchairs that have been adapted to fit their disability--participating in outdoor recreation is a real possibility. At this time, service-disabled veterans may receive such adaptive recreation equipment through the Department of Veterans Affairs. For the wounded warriors who remain on active duty, however, access to the rehabilitative equipment that can get them outdoors and active may be more difficult. Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Dudek, who until today served as the commanding officer of the Warrior Transition Battalion at Joint Base Lewis McChord, in Tacoma, WA, is one of these brave wounded warriors. My amendment would authorize the Secretary of Defense to provide wounded warriors who remain on active duty the same recreational equipment that their retired comrades receive through the Department of Veterans Affairs. This amendment will open the door to daily exercise and friendly athletic competition with friends, and will give them independence to pursue the recreational activities that give them the most joy.

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