VA Medical Center near Wilkes-Barre Celebrates Veterans

PLAINS TOWNSHIP -- Folks at the VA Medical Center near Wilkes-Barre held an event Wednesday called the Wheelchair Games, meant to encourage veterans to become aware of their abilities while promoting a spirit of courage.

Some tried their hand at shuffle board, while others tried to knock down all the pins for the perfect strike. More than 40 veterans took part in the wheelchair games outside of the VA Medical Center, as part of the recreational therapy program.

The fourth annual games gave veterans a chance to go outside and be competitive, at least for a day. Some had trained all week for their big moment.

Jim Campion was last year's defending bean bag champion. He says the key to winning was all in the wrist.

"It's a lot of fun to get to show our skills which are diminished over the years," said Jim Campion, Korean War veteran.

There were wheelchair races, basketball tosses, golf, shuffle board, and other competitive games. The wheelchair games help veterans to engage in activities and then promote healthy lifestyles outside of the medical center.

"This one is just a lot of fun it brings everybody together, it gives them the socialization skills and a great sense of accomplishment," said organizer Linda Zaneski.

The wheelchair games give veterans a sense of camaraderie being able to share their stories as well as play games.

"One of the problems we had when we came back from Vietnam, we were forgotten and it's nice to see people remember us,"  Robert Moore.

Moore says the games gives him a chance escape his daily reality.

"For a little while, my mind is not in this chair. I'm out here with friends; it's wonderful," Moore.

At the end of the event, veterans received a ribbon for participating.