National Veterans Golden Age Games begin
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON — Hundreds of veterans from around the nation are making their way to Des Moines, Iowa, to compete in the 24th National Veterans Golden Age Games, the largest annual sports competition of its kind in the world. The events run through Monday.
“This extraordinary event is a true testament to the competitive spirit and will of our nation’s veterans,” said John R. Gingrich, chief of staff for the Department of Veterans Affairs, who will attend the game’s opening ceremonies. “I am thrilled that this premier sporting event for senior veterans is being held in Des Moines this year, the heartland of America. I know our competitors will again demonstrate that age is not a deterrent to an active, rewarding life.”
Also attending the games is VA Assistant Secretary L. Tammy Duckworth, who will give remarks at the closing ceremonies on Monday.
Events at the National Veterans Golden Age Games are open to all U.S. military veterans age 55 or older who receive care at a VA medical facility. The games give participants the opportunity to compete in ambulatory, visually-impaired and wheelchair divisions, according to their ages. Events include swimming, cycling, bowling, croquet, air rifle, golf, shuffleboard, horseshoes, discus and shot-put.
The games are designed to improve the quality of life for older veterans, including those with a wide range of abilities and disabilities. Through a partnership with the National Senior Games Association, which is a member of the U.S. Olympic Committee, the event serves as a qualifier for participants in the National Senior Games, which take place every two years.
The Golden Age Games are co-sponsored by VA, Help Hospitalized Veterans and the Veterans Canteen Service. This year’s event is hosted by the VA Central Iowa Healthcare System in Des Moines and the Sierra Pacific Healthcare System in Mare Island, Calif.
“Help Hospitalized Veterans is extremely proud to again serve as a national co-sponsor of the games,” said Mike Lynch, HHV president and CEO. “The Golden Age Games are an example of VA’s commitment to cutting edge rehabilitative techniques through sports and social medicine. Veterans who participate have life-changing experiences, which will enhance their wellness and quality of life.”
“The Golden Age Games have proven to be an event promoting the health of older veterans, unmatched by any other,” said Marilyn Iverson, director of the Veterans Canteen Service. “The athletes who participate demonstrate the spirit of competition, friendship and a commitment to an active, rewarding lifestyle. This spirit not only helps to prevent illness, it strengthens the heart and rejuvenates the soul of all who witness and attend this inspiring event.”
The majority of the competitive events for the Golden Age Games will be held at Hy-Vee Hall, with opening and closing ceremonies taking place at Veterans Memorial Arena. The opening ceremony will began at 7 p.m. on Wednesday. The competition commences with golf on Thursday at Blank Golf Course. Closing ceremonies will be held at 7 p.m. on Monday at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium.
Taking place over the Memorial Day holiday weekend this year, the Games present an excellent opportunity to remember the contributions of America’s older veterans.