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VA Maryland Health Care System


Health Watch: Fall Winter 2017-2018

Golden Age Veterans Go for the Gold

World War II Army Veteran John Dicks bowls just about every day at 2 p.m. In May, all that practice paid off. He won top honors in the bowling category in this year's VA National Veterans Golden Age Games, held in Biloxi, Mississippi, with more than 900 Veterans from across the country competing.

To be eligible to compete, Veterans must be at least 55 years of age and enrolled in VA health care. There are three divisions (Ambulatory, Visually-Impaired, and Wheelchair) and ages are broken down into eight categories.

At 91, Dicks (who also volunteers with VA Maryland two days a week) was the oldest among the 16 Veterans from the VA Maryland Health Care System to compete. He was also the one to bring home the most medals—three gold and one silver. But it's not just about winning. A widower since 2000, Dicks likes to be around people, and he's doing everything he can to be active and keep young.

"I have a nice time with other Veterans," he said. "It keeps me in shape, and I just love to do it."

"The National Veterans Golden Age Games is one of the most progressive adaptive rehabilitative sports programs in the world for seniors," said Shermaine Johnson, Recreation Therapy Supervisor with the VA Maryland Health Care System. "It's the only national multi-event sports and recreational competition program that is designed to improve the quality of life for all older Veterans, including those with a wide range of abilities and disabilities."

In addition to the Golden Age Games, Recreation Therapy offers other opportunities for Veterans to socialize, develop skills and compete with other Veterans, such as the annual Creative Arts Festival and smaller events throughout the year, like a recent Adaptive Sports Boccia Ball Clinic. In the future, Veterans will also be able to participate in the National Wheelchair Games and the Summer and Winter Sports Clinics.

Ready for some friendly competition? Contact Recreation Therapy at
410-642-2411, ext. 2909 to learn more.
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