More than 700 Veterans will travel to St. Louis, Mo., May 31 -- June 5 to compete in the 26th National Veterans Golden Age Games, a national sports and recreation competition sponsored by the Department of Veterans Affairs, Help Hospitalized Veterans (HHV), and Veterans Canteen Service (VCS).
"We are very pleased to be able to bring the Golden Age Games to St. Louis," Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki said. "Through this rehabilitative athletic event, VA strives to introduce older Veterans to the benefits of sports and recreation. These athletes will showcase their skills, mental toughness and physical fitness at the games."
Celebrating its 26th year, the games offer the largest sports and recreation competition in the world for military Veterans age 55 and older.
Hosted by the St. Louis VA Medical Center, the competition features sports such as swimming, cycling, golf, track and field, bowling, table tennis and others, totaling 14 competitive events. Events are open to all U.S. military Veterans age 55 or older who are currently receiving care at any VA medical facility.
The Games have grown from 115 participants its first year to more than 700 in 2011. It is the only national multi-event sports and recreational seniors' competition program designed to improve the quality of life for all older Veterans, including those with a wide range of abilities and disabilities. It is one of the most progressive and adaptive rehabilitative senior sports programs in the world, and is made possible by the support provided by co-sponsors VCS and HHV.
"An active lifestyle is vital to everyone's health and well-being, and can serve as one of the best tools to health maintenance as well as disease prevention," Marilyn Iverson, VCS director said. "The Golden Age Games is truly a life saving program for our Nation's Veterans and life affirming for all those who have attended them. The Veterans Canteen Service is committed and proud to serve as a co-sponsor to the 26th National Veterans Golden Age Games."
"Help Hospitalized Veterans is extremely proud to co-sponsor VA's National Veterans Golden Age Games," Mike Lynch, the organization's president and CEO said. "We sincerely hope that each and every one of this year's Veteran participants enjoys a memorable event of camaraderie and competition, and will continue their quest to maintain good physical and mental health throughout their lives."
The 2012 event begins with a gala opening ceremony at 7 p.m. on May 31 at America's Center, America's Ballroom. The closing ceremony is on June 5 at 7 p.m. in the same location. Competitive events run from June 1st through the 5th.
The National Veterans Golden Age Games serve as a qualifying event for the National Senior Olympics. The National Senior Olympics is a community-based member of the United States Olympic Committee and recognize senior athletes as the best athletes in their respective age groups in the United States.
For more information about the National Veterans Golden Age Games and other VA national rehabilitation programs, visit www.veteransgoldenagegames.va.gov.